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.
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