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PhD Thesis Defense Seminar

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
9:30 a.m.
Sloan Auditorium, Room 101, Robert B. Goergen Hall

“Expanding the Applications of Adaptive Optics Scanning Light Ophthalmoscopy”

Presented by: Drew Scoles
Co-advised by: Prof. Alfredo Dubra and Prof. David Williams

In addition to visual impairment, vision loss often leads to significant emotional and psychological hardship, triggered by feelings of isolation and dependence on others for activities of daily life. Common blinding conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration lead to retinal neuronal death, thus preventing detection of visual information from the outside world and its transmission to the brain. Early detection of retinal pathology is essential for effective treatment, since vision often does not recover substantially after insult or injury and cell loss is permanent. Accordingly, there will always be a strong emphasis on developing non-invasive imaging techniques for the early diagnosis and accurate monitoring of retinal disease. The advent of adaptive optics retinal imaging provided the ability to visualize individual photoreceptor cells in the living human retina, and has been applied to the study of many retinal diseases. The work presented here focuses on expanding the capabilities and scope of adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO).

The thesis begins with an extensive survey of previously understudied inner retinal layers in normal and pathological conditions using AOSLO confocal imaging, which resulted in a number of novel microscopic findings that span across multiple apparently unrelated conditions. Following this, two non-confocal imaging modalities, namely dark-field and nonconfocal split-detection were demonstrated, allowing for visualization of the retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor inner segments, respectively. These novel techniques are then applied to the study of inherited, traumatic and idiopathic retinal disease in human patients. Correlations between clinical imaging techniques including optical coherence tomography and fundus photography with confocal AOSLO and the non-confocal AOSLO modalities are assessed. Finally, these non-confocal techniques are shown to provide novel, unique and critical information about cellular structure in the context of retinal disease and for preparation of retinal gene therapies.