Endowed Chair

Innovative Visual Science

Innovative techniques for basic and clinical research of the eye
  • New imaging and diagnostic techniques for the eyes
  • Study of the relationship between the eyes and systemic diseases
  • Biomarkers for ocular diseases
  • New technologies and clinical samples to study and treat ophthalmological and systemic diseases

Ocular imaging and clinical samples to study and treat ocular and systemic diseases

Advances in ocular imaging have been tremendous in recent years, allowing for comprehensive analysis of the eyes. For example, optical coherence tomography provides such detailed information that we can map the cornea. Not only can we detect the cornea shape, we can also measure the cornea’s refractive power and thickness. Thus, we can observe changes in the cornea as a way to diagnose systemic diseases. Furthermore, advances in imaging now allow us to noninvasively observe anatomical changes in the fundus and choroidal vessels. Further, using new laser flare meters, we can detect inflammation, which can be used to assess the severity of a disease. Finally, we can diagnose systemic diseases based on other ocular parameters such as ocular fluid. In other words, ocular imaging can be used to diagnose not only ophthalmological diseases, but systemic diseases as well.

(Diagnostics with medical equipment)
As representative diseases for new imaging diagnostics, we have been researching keratoconus and Harada disease, which inflict the anterior and posterior segments of the eye, respectively. Keratoconus is a corneal degenerative disease. The mechanism of its onset is not known, and there is no clear pattern of the disease (it can afflict one eye only, both eyes, it can be sporadic or familial, etc.). Current treatment options include corneal transplantation, hard contact lenses, and corneal collagen cross-linking. Ideally, we would detect the disease at its early stages, which has become possible with advanced imaging. The same imaging is even making it possible to predict risk factors for the disease.
Harada disease is an immune disease that affects the choroid and is associated with thickening of the vasculature and aqueous flares. Developments in optical coherence tomography has finally provided a non-invasive technique for diagnosis. Flare meters too can be used to evaluate the disease progression.

(Analysis of intraocular fluid)
Besides the above, we are researching diagnostic methods for a host of diseases whose pathogenesis are not well understood. This list includes infectious disease, tumors and inflammatory diseases. We are experimenting with small samples of tears and intraocular fluids and then processing the samples with multiplex PCR to detect foreign DNA like that of herpes. On the other hand, tumors and inflammatory diseases can be detected by flow cytometry of the intraocular fluid. This approach is especially effective for the diagnosis of malignant lymphomas and sarcoidosis.