Relationship between retinal structure and visual function in eye diseases

Relationship between retinal structure and visual function in eye diseases


Many ocular diseases manifest themselves on the retina before functional deficits develop. There would be a delay in recognizing the retinal damage if we only rely on the functional tests especially when the peripheral retinal is firstly damaged during the initial stage of diseases like glaucoma and pigmentary degeneration of the retina. The structural tests will provide detailed information at the early stage of diseases, which is essential to early diagnosis and progression follow-up.

Even in the presence of functional impairment, functional testing procedures like optometry can be time-consuming and exhausting for patients. The retinal structural tests like fundus imaging and optical coherence tomography (OCT), on the other hand, are convenient—even for patients at an advanced age—and often take only seconds to few minutes, which is much shorter than functional tests.

Meanwhile, optometry is a subjective test and can be easily affected by patients’ age, recognition level, attention, and even training times. In contrast, fundus imaging and OCT are objective, accurate, and quantitative.

It’s undeniable that both the functional and structural tests are indispensable for comprehensive clinical measurement, including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up, but it’s also a vital goal for researchers and clinical healthcare providers to combine the functional and structural tests in an efficient way, take advantages of each test, broaden the application among the population as well as save time and clinical resources.

What We Do

Therefore, our team is investigating the relationship between damages of retinal structure and their precise effects on functional vision in ocular diseases. In particular, we study patient measurements from fundus images and OCT results, investing their association with specific effects on functional vision. We apply image processing and statistical learning methods to large sets of paired structure-function measurements of several ocular diseases (diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration) to predict the details of functional vision loss from fundus photography or optical coherence tomography. From previous achievements, we studied the relationship between the three-dimensional (3D) optic nerve head (ONH) related structure and glaucoma and recently identified an important retinal biomarker specifically for central vision loss in glaucoma. Our research has high clinical relevance and can be potentially translated into clinical practice for better glaucoma diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment.

Selected Publications

1. Yousefi S, Elze T, Pasquale LR, Saeedi O, Wang M, Shen LQ, Wellik SR, De Moraes CG, Myers JS, Boland MV. Monitoring Glaucomatous Functional Loss Using an Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Dashboard. Ophthalmology. 2020 Sep;127(9):1170-1178. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.03.008. Epub 2020 Mar 10. PubMed PMID: 32317176; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7483368.

2. Wang M, Shen LQ, Pasquale LR, Wang H, Li D, Choi EY, Yousefi S, Bex PJ, Elze T. An Artificial Intelligence Approach to Assess Spatial Patterns of Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness Maps in Glaucoma. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2020 Aug;9(9):41. doi: 10.1167/tvst.9.9.41. eCollection 2020 Aug. PubMed PMID: 32908804; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7453051.

3. Mengyu Wang, Qingying Jin, Hui Wang, Neda Baniasadi and Tobias Elze, “Quantifying positional variation of retinal blood vessels in glaucoma", PLOS ONE 13 (2018): e0193555.

4. Mengyu Wang, Qingying Jin, Hui Wang, Dian Li, Neda Baniasadi and Tobias Elze, “The Interrelationship between Refractive Error, Blood Vessel Anatomy, and Glaucomatous Visual Field Loss", Translational Vision Science & Technology 7 (2018): 4.

5. Mengyu Wang, Hui Wang, Louis R. Pasquale, Neda Baniasadi, Lucy Q. Shen, Peter J. Bex and Tobias Elze, “Relationship Between Central Retinal Vessel Trunk Location and Visual Field Loss in Glaucoma", American Journal of Ophthalmology 176 (2017): 53-60.

6. Neda Baniasadi, Mengyu Wang, Hui Wang, Qingying Jin and Tobias Elze, “Ametropia, retinal anatomy, and OCT abnormality patterns in glaucoma. 2. Impacts of optic nerve head parameters", Journal of Biomedical Optics 22 (2017): 1.

7. Tobias Elze, Neda Baniasadi, Qingying Jin and Hui Wang, “Ametropia, retinal anatomy, and OCT abnormality patterns in glaucoma. 1. Impacts of refractive error and interartery angle", Journal of Biomedical Optics 22 (2017): 1.