Scientists funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) detected minute, nanometer-scale changes in response to light hitting photoreceptors in a living eye. The findings may lead to new strategies for detecting eye diseases earlier, when treatments are likely to be more effective. The report appears today in Science Advances.
The research, led by Ramkumar Sabesan, Ph.D., Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington School of Medicine, used high-speed phase-resolved optical coherence tomography, which provided resolution of the retina at the cellular level. Applying the technology, the researchers observed slight changes in shape as cone photoreceptors were exposed to light. This electromechanical deformation in individual photoreceptors is a phenomenon associated with phototransduction, the process by which light is translated into an electrical signal sent from the eye to the brain to produce vision.
The work was funded by the Audacious Goals Initiative for Regenerative Medicine, an effort by NEI to push the boundaries of vision science and restore vision through regeneration of the retina.