UIUC Receives NIH Grant for A Snapshot Adaptive Optics and Hyperspectral Autofluorescence Fundus Camera for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Receives a 2020 NIH Grant for $445,996 for A Snapshot Adaptive Optics and Hyperspectral Autofluorescence Fundus Camera for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The principal investigator is Liang Gao. Below is a summary of the proposed work.
An imaging modality that allows for fast, simultaneous, noninvasive probing of both 3D cellular resolution retinal morphology by optical coherence tomography (OCT) and molecular-specific functions by autofluorescence (AF) could substantially improve both basic understanding and the early diagnosis of age- related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. The evaluation and management of AMD utilize several investigation modalities, but advancements in OCT technology have significantly contributed to better understanding of the disease, and have helped with monitoring progression and therapeutic efficacy. However, due to optical aberrations of the eye, the transverse resolution of conventional OCT is generally limited to 10-15 µm, inadequate for visualizing individual retinal cells in vivo. The integration of adaptive optics (AO) into OCT has demonstrated an immense success in mitigating these aberrations. Among various AO-OCT techniques, computation-based AO (CAO) becomes the spotlight of research because it shows unique advantages in data postprocessing flexibility and a reduced system cost. However, CAO is extremely sensitive to phase stability. The rapid motion of the eye can easily scramble the phase of reflected photons, restricting imaging to a single en-face layer. To overcome this problem, we will integrate a snapshot hyperspectral imaging method, Image Mapping Spectrometry (IMS), with full-field spectral-domain OCT. The integrated system will enable 3D imaging of retina within a single camera exposure. Next, to improve resolution in 3D, we will adapt an established CAO algorithm to correct for wavefront aberrations and improve transverse resolution to 2 µm. The resultant method, which we term snapshot ultra-high-resolution OCT, will allow an acquisition of a quarter million A-scans simultaneously. Given a typical flash illumination duration (4 µs), the equivalent A-scan rate is 62.5 GHz, which is approximately three orders of magnitude faster than the state-of-the-art methods. Furthermore, to expand the system’s functionality to molecular imaging, we will add a second IMS imaging channel for simultaneous hyperspectral imaging of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) autofluorescence, enabling spectral biopsy of the RPE and subRPE lesions such as drusen, the hallmark lesion of early AMD. The resultant dual-channel OCT/AF system will be the first imaging modality that can provide both structural and molecular information about the retina in vivo and in 3D. We envision such a system would shift the landscape of AMD evaluation and management. The insights so obtained will be of high value in clinical diagnosis and treatment. In addition, such a system will accelerate translational research with sensitive and early outcome testing of prospective therapeutic agents, saving sight and thereby providing enormous benefit to society.