Our long-term goal is to develop new functional extensions of optical coherence tomography (vis-OCT) for clinical diagnosis and management of glaucoma. Glaucoma is characterized by a progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and optic nerve defects and atrophy, afflicting more than 60 million people worldwide. It is often develops slowly with symptoms and damage that are not noticed at early stage. Caring for those with glaucomatous vision disability poses a huge burden on the US health care system. Early detection and screening techniques at asymptomatic stage is thus of critical importance for better management of the disease and will have paramount clinical and economic impacts. In this proposal, the power of the ultrahigh axial resolution (~1 m) will be harnessed and the increased optical contrast sensitivity offered by visible-light OCT (vis-OCT) to investigate the mechanism of optically detectable alterations underlying early retinal ganglion cell (RGC) damage in mouse models of experimental glaucoma. The proposed study will serve as the foundation for objective and sensitive early clinical diagnosis of glaucoma using OCT. First, the investigators will establish vis-OCT methodology to detect RGC and axon damage using an acute mouse model of nerve crush injury. Then, the investigators will determine physiological origin of vis-OCT detected RGC ultrastructural alterations in a chronic model of experimental glaucoma. Finally, the investigators will determine that vis-OCT detected RGC ultrastructural alterations proceeds the structural and functional metrics used for clinical glaucoma diagnoses in a chronic model of experimental glaucoma.
This proposal aims to develop a new clinical imaging modality, referred to as visible-light optical coherence tomography or vis-OCT, to achieve early and objective glaucoma detection. The new imaging technology offers much improved spatial resolution and imaging sensitivity as compared with the state-of-the-art clinical OCT systems. The PIs will accomplish the proposed work in two mouse models of experimental glaucoma and will work with leading clinicians to translate findings towards patient imaging.