MAR 15, 2016
Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Retina/Vitreous
Scientists at the University of Southern California Eye Institute are using advanced retinal imaging combined with comprehensive brain mapping techniques to unlock the mysteries of the brain as it relates to vision loss.
The premise of researchers is that patients differ in how they respond to vision restoration therapies based not just on the specific eye disease, but also in how each patient's brain is wired. While the study will yield big data insights that can have broad impact for many patients, the focus is also on personalizing medicine to enhance each patient's treatment options through the data collected in the individual brain scans
The multidisciplinary effort, which recently received a $4 million grant from the National Eye Institute, will use sophisticated equipment developed as part of the Human Connectome Project (HCP) – an ambitious project to construct a map of the complete structural and functional neural connections in vivo within and across individuals. The HCP is a 5-year project sponsored by the NIH and represents the first large-scale attempt to collect and share data of a scope and detail sufficient to begin the process of addressing deeply fundamental questions about human connectional anatomy and variation.
"The brain mapping research will provide a baseline that in turn allows a more comprehensive understanding of conditions that affect the retina and the downstream consequences in the central visual pathways and with this knowledge, we can better treat visual impairments," said James Weiland, PhD, professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at USC. "We'll achieve this through creation of an enormous database of information that ultimately provides a better roadmap to optimize current vision restoration treatments such as Argus II implants for retinitis pigmentosa patients, stem cells to help with age-related macular degeneration or surgical precision to treat tumors on the optic nerve."