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1.  New Wrinkles in Retinal Densitometry 
Retinal densitometry provides objective information about retinal function. But, a number of factors, including retinal reflectance changes that are not directly related to photopigment depletion, complicate its interpretation. We explore these factors and suggest a method to minimize their impact.
An adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) was used to measure changes in photoreceptor reflectance in monkeys before and after photopigment bleaching with 514-nm light. Reflectance measurements at 514 nm and 794 nm were recorded simultaneously. Several methods of normalization to extract the apparent optical density of the photopigment were compared.
We identified stimulus-related fluctuations in 794-nm reflectance that are not associated with photopigment absorptance and occur in both rods and cones. These changes had a magnitude approaching those associated directly with pigment depletion, precluding the use of infrared reflectance for normalization. We used a spatial normalization method instead, which avoided the fluctuations in the near infrared, as well as a confocal AOSLO designed to minimize light from layers other than the receptors. However, these methods produced a surprisingly low estimate of the apparent rhodopsin density (animal 1: 0.073 ± 0.006, animal 2: 0.032 ± 0.003).
These results confirm earlier observations that changes in photopigment absorption are not the only source of retinal reflectance change during dark adaptation. It appears that the stray light that has historically reduced the apparent density of cone photopigment in retinal densitometry arises predominantly from layers near the photoreceptors themselves. Despite these complications, this method provides a valuable, objective measure of retinal function.
Retinal densitometry has the potential to provide objective information about the function of the retina. However, a number of factors complicate the interpretation of retinal reflectance. We have discovered additional sources of reflectance change and have defined a method to minimize their impact.
PMCID: PMC4244068  PMID: 25316726
dark adaptation; densitometry; intrinsic signals; adaptive optics; rhodopsin regeneration
2.  Rod Photopigment Kinetics After Photodisruption of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
Advances in retinal imaging have led to the discovery of long-lasting retinal changes caused by light exposures below published safety limits, including disruption of the RPE. To investigate the functional consequences of RPE disruption, we combined adaptive optics ophthalmoscopy with retinal densitometry.
A modified adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) measured the apparent density and regeneration rate of rhodopsin in two macaques before and after four different 568-nm retinal radiant exposures (RREs; 400–3200 J/cm2). Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was used to measure the optical path length through the photoreceptor outer segments before and after RPE disruption.
All tested RREs caused visible RPE disruption. Apparent rhodopsin density was significantly reduced following 1600 (P = 0.01) and 3200 J/cm2 (P = 0.007) exposures. No significant change in apparent density was observed in response to 800 J/cm2. Surprisingly, exposure to 400 J/cm2 showed a significant increase in apparent density (P = 0.047). Rhodopsin recovery rate was not significantly affected by these RREs. Optical coherence tomography measurements showed a significant decrease in the optical path length through the photoreceptor outer segments for RREs above 800 J/cm2 (P < 0.001).
At higher RREs, optical path length through the outer segments was reduced. However, the rate of photopigment regeneration was unchanged. While some ambiguity remains as to the correlation between measured reflectivity and absolute rhodopsin density; at the lowest RREs, RPE disruption appears not to be accompanied by a loss of apparent rhodopsin density, which would have been indicative of functional loss.
Advances in retinal imaging have led to the discovery of disruption of the RPE caused by light exposures below published safety limits. To investigate the functional consequences of this RPE disruption, we combined adaptive optics ophthalmoscopy with retinal densitometry.
PMCID: PMC4244069  PMID: 25316724
light damage; retinal pigment epithelium; rhodopsin regeneration; densitometry; dark adaptation
3.  Long-Term Reduction in Infrared Autofluorescence Caused by Infrared Light Below the Maximum Permissible Exposure 
Many retinal imaging instruments use infrared wavelengths to reduce the risk of light damage. However, we have discovered that exposure to infrared illumination causes a long-lasting reduction in infrared autofluorescence (IRAF). We have characterized the dependence of this effect on radiant exposure and investigated its origin.
A scanning laser ophthalmoscope was used to obtain IRAF images from two macaques before and after exposure to 790-nm light (15-450 J/cm2). Exposures were performed with either raster-scanning or uniform illumination. Infrared autofluorescence images also were obtained in two humans exposed to 790-nm light in a separate study. Humans were assessed with direct ophthalmoscopy, Goldmann visual fields, multifocal ERG, and photopic microperimetry to determine whether these measures revealed any effects in the exposed locations.
A significant decrease in IRAF after exposure to infrared light was seen in both monkeys and humans. In monkeys, the magnitude of this reduction increased with retinal radiant exposure. Partial recovery was seen at 1 month, with full recovery within 21 months. Consistent with a photochemical origin, IRAF decreases caused by either raster-scanning or uniform illumination were not significantly different. We were unable to detect any effect of the light exposure with any measure other than IRAF imaging. We cannot exclude the possibility that changes could be detected with more sensitive tests or longer follow-up.
This long-lasting effect of infrared illumination in both humans and monkeys occurs at exposure levels four to five times below current safety limits. The photochemical basis for this phenomenon remains unknown.
Exposure to infrared illumination at irradiances well below current safety limits can cause a long-lasting decrease in infrared autofluorescence from the retina. It is unclear whether this effect is benign or indicative of a subcellular change that could be cumulatively harmful.
PMCID: PMC4068866  PMID: 24845640
retina; light damage; radiation damage; scanning laser ophthalmoscopy; retinal pigment epithelium
4.  Focal damage to macaque photoreceptors produces persistent visual loss 
Experimental eye research  2013;119:88-96.
Insertion of light-gated channels into inner retina neurons restores neural light responses, light evoked potentials, visual optomotor responses and visually-guided maze behavior in mice blinded by retinal degeneration. This method of vision restoration bypasses damaged outer retina, providing stimulation directly to retinal ganglion cells in inner retina. The approach is similar to that of electronic visual protheses, but may offer some advantages, such as avoidance of complex surgery and direct targeting of many thousands of neurons. However, the promise of this technique for restoring human vision remains uncertain because rodent animal models, in which it has been largely developed, are not ideal for evaluating visual perception. On the other hand, psychophysical vision studies in macaque can be used to evaluate different approaches to vision restoration in humans. Furthermore, it has not been possible to test vision restoration in macaques, the optimal model for human-like vision, because there has been no macaque model of outer retina degeneration. In this study, we describe development of a macaque model of photoreceptor degeneration that can in future studies be used to test restoration of perception by visual prostheses. Our results show that perceptual deficits caused by focal light damage are restricted to locations at which photoreceptors are damaged, that optical coherence tomography (OCT) can be used to track such lesions, and that adaptive optics retinal imaging, which we recently used for in vivo recording of ganglion cell function, can be used in future studies to examine these lesions.
PMCID: PMC4329982  PMID: 24316158
retina; light damage; ganglion cells; macaque; adaptive optics
5.  Intravitreal Injection of AAV2 Transduces Macaque Inner Retina 
Intravitreally injected AAV2 transduced inner retinal cells in a restricted region at the macaque fovea. Because macaque and human eyes are similar, the results suggest a need to improve transduction methods in gene therapy for the human inner retina.
Adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV2) has been shown to be effective in transducing inner retinal neurons after intravitreal injection in several species. However, results in nonprimates may not be predictive of transduction in the human inner retina, because of differences in eye size and the specialized morphology of the high-acuity human fovea. This was a study of inner retina transduction in the macaque, a primate with ocular characteristics most similar to that of humans.
In vivo imaging and histology were used to examine GFP expression in the macaque inner retina after intravitreal injection of AAV vectors containing five distinct promoters.
AAV2 produced pronounced GFP expression in inner retinal cells of the fovea, no expression in the central retina beyond the fovea, and variable expression in the peripheral retina. AAV2 vector incorporating the neuronal promoter human connexin 36 (hCx36) transduced ganglion cells within a dense annulus around the fovea center, whereas AAV2 containing the ubiquitous promoter hybrid cytomegalovirus (CMV) enhancer/chicken-β-actin (CBA) transduced both Müller and ganglion cells in a dense circular disc centered on the fovea. With three shorter promoters—human synapsin (hSYN) and the shortened CBA and hCx36 promoters (smCBA and hCx36sh)—AAV2 produced visible transduction, as seen in fundus images, only when the retina was altered by ganglion cell loss or enzymatic vitreolysis.
The results in the macaque suggest that intravitreal injection of AAV2 would produce high levels of gene expression at the human fovea, important in retinal gene therapy, but not in the central retina beyond the fovea.
PMCID: PMC3088562  PMID: 21310920
6.  In-vivo imaging of retinal nerve fiber layer vasculature: imaging - histology comparison 
BMC Ophthalmology  2009;9:9.
Although it has been suggested that alterations of nerve fiber layer vasculature may be involved in the etiology of eye diseases, including glaucoma, it has not been possible to examine this vasculature in-vivo. This report describes a novel imaging method, fluorescence adaptive optics (FAO) scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO), that makes possible for the first time in-vivo imaging of this vasculature in the living macaque, comparing in-vivo and ex-vivo imaging of this vascular bed.
We injected sodium fluorescein intravenously in two macaque monkeys while imaging the retina with an FAO-SLO. An argon laser provided the 488 nm excitation source for fluorescence imaging. Reflectance images, obtained simultaneously with near infrared light, permitted precise surface registration of individual frames of the fluorescence imaging. In-vivo imaging was then compared to ex-vivo confocal microscopy of the same tissue.
Superficial focus (innermost retina) at all depths within the NFL revealed a vasculature with extremely long capillaries, thin walls, little variation in caliber and parallel-linked structure oriented parallel to the NFL axons, typical of the radial peripapillary capillaries (RPCs). However, at a deeper focus beneath the NFL, (toward outer retina) the polygonal pattern typical of the ganglion cell layer (inner) and outer retinal vasculature was seen. These distinguishing patterns were also seen on histological examination of the same retinas. Furthermore, the thickness of the RPC beds and the caliber of individual RPCs determined by imaging closely matched that measured in histological sections.
This robust method demonstrates in-vivo, high-resolution, confocal imaging of the vasculature through the full thickness of the NFL in the living macaque, in precise agreement with histology. FAO provides a new tool to examine possible primary or secondary role of the nerve fiber layer vasculature in retinal vascular disorders and other eye diseases, such as glaucoma.
PMCID: PMC2744910  PMID: 19698151

Results 1-6 (6)