Imaging retinal ganglion cells

Imaging retinal ganglion cells

Imaging the living retina using adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) has enabled the study of individual retinal cells, such as light-sensing photoreceptors. However, due to their transparency, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which convey retinal images to the brain and are affected in diseases such as glaucoma, remain difficult to image.

Researchers developed a modified AOSLO-based method that allows for in vivo imaging of retinal ganglion cells. Unlike other invasive optical imaging techniques, the method does not require fluorescent labels or high light levels that can damage retinal cells.

Instead, the authors used an imaging technique involving offset-aperture settings to enhance the structural contrast of the RGC images, and demonstrated that the AOSLO-based method could produce images of the RGCs of macaque monkeys and human participants with normal vision.

Moreover, in five patients with age-related macular degeneration, the method allowed the authors to assess photoreceptor pathology.

According to the authors, the noninvasive imaging technique could promote further understanding of the role of RGCs in normal vision, and might provide a potential diagnostic tool for evaluating new therapies for retinal disease.