More than 21 million Americans and 285 million people worldwide are either legally blind or with low vision. While 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured, ophthalmologists presently lack adequate resources to make timely diagnoses and decisions regarding treatment. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide a clinical tool that detects minute physiological abnormalities much earlier than irreversible anatomical alternations manifest in the eye. This team has developed the state-of-the-art retinal imaging technologies to provide the earliest warnings of several vision threatening diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, macular generation, and glaucoma, well before current clinical practices can achieve.

The proposed solution relies on novel optical coherence tomography technology, working within both visible-light and near infrared spectral ranges, and sophisticated inverse algorithms to extract both retinal blood flow and retinal blood oxygenation at the capillary level. The key merit of the innovation comes from the fact that our device improves clinicians' diagnostic and treatment capabilities by providing retinal oxygen metabolic in addition to microscopic anatomical information in the retina. Without such functional information, clinicians must rely on a discernible structural abnormality to determine the disease stage, which oftentimes comes once the disease is already advanced and difficult to treat. The proposed metabolic optical coherence tomography opens up new window for quantitative risk evaluation and management of vision loss diseases at early stage. Moreover, commercializing this technology will ultimately help to reduce the societal healthcare costs and improve the quality of lives of millions of patients in the US alone.

Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Northwestern University at Chicago
United States
Zip Code