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Spectacular Imaging in the Eye and Unprecedented Precision

Adams, Anthony J.

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Optometry and Vision Science: May 2011 - Volume 88 - Issue 5 - p 559-560
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e31821cef8d
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Late in the 20th Century, we saw the emergence of quite remarkable new imaging and biometric measurement technologies applied to the eye. And in the first decade of the 21st Century, the pace of development accelerated.

Today, almost every tissue of the eye can be measured and imaged in a way that was not possible 15 years ago. Today's scope and precision of in vivo eye biometry measurement was probably beyond the imagination of those who graduated from optometry or ophthalmology before 1990!

The visualization of individual photoreceptors through adaptive optics corrections, the “in vivo” visualization of the patient's retina and the measurement of the thickness of each individual retinal layer (Figure 1), the corpuscular flow in retinal vessels quantified by direct view, the detailed and imaged 3D structure of the optic nerve head and the retina, the rapid determination of all of the dimensions of the cornea and its clinically critical biomechanical properties, the imaging of the ciliary body and thickness measurements related to accommodation and myopia research, the advanced characterization of the human crystalline lens and its dynamics during accommodation, and even the magnetic resonance imaging resolution of the eye and extraocular muscles. These realities are quite new. And they have been used to advance knowledge of the eye's function in normal and diseased states in quite dramatic ways. There is hardly an area of eye and vision research that has not been impacted by the spectacular new imaging and the unprecedented precision measures that have come with the imaging.

Retinal layers in vivo, captured with a high-resolution Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) instrument. It is the “average” image of 50 OCT B-scans combined to reduce image noise and improve resolution. The image gives a good example of the different retinal layers (and choroidal structure) that can be imaged with the newer high-resolution OCT systems. Courtesy: Scott Read, OD, PhD, and David Alonso-Caneiro, PhD, Queensland University of Technology.

It is time to take stock, both clinically and in vision and eye research. It is time to also look at the potential to answer remaining critical questions!

What can we now do in imaging and ocular tissue measurement that we couldn't just 15 years ago, and with what precision? What research discoveries have directly resulted from use of these tools? What can we still expect to learn with these advanced ‘tools’ in the future?

What issues and questions are currently being addressed? What will it take in further technology advances and development, including improved precision, to allow other problems to be addressed? What are the emerging frontiers in technology that will give even greater in vivo access to the biometry of tissues of the eye?

What impact has there been on clinical patient care? And what is likely to change in clinical care as a result of new imaging and unprecedented precision in measurement? Where are the anticipated new clinical applications and for what important patient problems?

Optometry and Vision Science has, in this May issue, posted a “Call for Papers” to address these questions and challenges in a Feature Issue to be published early in 2012. The deadline for all submissions is October 1, 2011. An international panel of experts and pioneers will serve as Guest Editors. The issue will feature Invited Reviews/Perspectives by those leading the field, Original papers, Technical and Clinical Reports, and illustrative Case Reports—all with editorial peer review.

As noted in the Announcement of the “Call for Papers,” the topics include:

  • High-resolution imaging of the retina, choroid, and optic nerve.
  • Rapid in vivo determination of the dimensions and biomechanical properties of the cornea.
  • Non-invasive measurements of tear film characteristics.
  • Imaging and measurement of the ciliary body.
  • Advanced characterization of the crystalline lens and its dynamics in accommodation.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging and imaging of the globe and orbital structures.
  • Precise non-invasive measures of axial length and eye shape.

This should be a most exciting publication. Alert your colleagues!

Anthony J. Adams


Berkeley, California

© 2011 American Academy of Optometry