Apps Sharpens Eye Imaging

Higher resolution tissue imaging available through computer based technique

(RxWiki News) As medical imaging of the eye tissue becomes more advanced, including three dimensional options, important details can at times be lost in hazy areas that lack sharpness.

A team of engineers has created the PC-based computational adaptive optics technique, which can take tissue images with blurry streaks or blobs and correct them so that details become fine points, and distortion is removed.

Steven Adie, a postdoctoral researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, noted that computational techniques allow doctors to go beyond what the optical system can do alone, ultimately getting the best quality images and 3-D results.

The technique may be especially useful for eye surgery when miniscule details are of great significance, though it also could be used to diagnose cancer or for minimally invasive outpatient surgery.

The faster, less-expensive technique could aid in better precision to ensure more accurate diagnoses. The technique allows doctors to view tissue structures that previously were not visible at all.

Following development of the computer-based technique, researchers demonstrated it in gel-based phantoms laced with microparticles, and also on the lung tissue of a rat. Tissue samples are scanned with an interferometric microscope, an optical imaging device that uses two beams of light. Data is then collected by the computer, which corrects the images at all depths within the volume, turning blurry streaks or distortion into sharp points.

Adaptive optics is widely used in astronomy to correct for distortion as starlight filters through the atmosphere. However in recent years scientists have begun using the technique, hoping to improve cell and tissue imaging.

“It’s the same challenge, but instead of imaging through the atmosphere, we’re imaging through tissue, and instead of imaging a star, we’re imaging a cell,” said Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, of bioengineering and of internal medicine at the University of Illinois.

In the future, the technique could be used for real-time in-vivo applications for surgery and minimally invasive biopsy. It also would be effective for viewing rods and cones within the eyes.

"Improved imagining technology over the past 10 years has improved the ability of eye doctors to more accurately diagnose a variety of eye diseases," said Dr. Christopher Quinn, an optometrist with Omni Eye Associates.

"The use of adaptive optics coupled with these advance in imaging techniques will undoubtedly further enhance the resolution of these eye images allowing eye doctors to make earlier and more accurate diagnoses of a variety of eye conditions."

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, was recently published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Review Date: 
April 26, 2012