Novel Imaging Approach Reveals Key Details About Rare Eye Disease

Published on: 

A combination of eye imaging techniques and adaptive optics has revealed key details of choroideremia.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently unveiled a new process for revealing key details of choroideremia, a rare genetic disorder that leads to blindness. Found through a study by the National Eye Institute (NEI), the approach combines traditional eye imaging techniques with adaptive optics, a type of technology that enhances imaging resolution.

According to an agency press release from Sept. 13, 2022, this approach was developed by Johnny Tam, head of the Clinical and Translational Imaging Unit at NEI. By combining adaptive optics with indocyanine green dye, the team was able to view live cells in the retina, including light-sensing photoreceptors, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and choroidal blood vessels. This allowed the researchers to see the extent to which choroideremia disrupts these tissues, information which can be used to design effective treatments for the condition.

The major findings of the study concerned the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a layer of pigmented cells needed for the nourishment and survival of photoreceptors. Patients with choroideremia had RPE cells that were significantly enlarged, with some enlarged as much as five-fold; by contrast, photoreceptor and blood vessel layers had less disruptions. According to the release, this suggested to the researchers that RPE disruptions may play a significant role in the disease.


“It’s not obvious at first, but using an existing tool in the clinic, we can monitor and track the cellular status of the RPE layer,” said Tam in the release. “This could prove valuable in identifying which patients would benefit the most from therapeutic interventions.”

Source: NIH