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1.  In Vivo Imaging of Human Cone Photoreceptor Inner Segments 
An often overlooked prerequisite to cone photoreceptor gene therapy development is residual photoreceptor structure that can be rescued. While advances in adaptive optics (AO) retinal imaging have recently enabled direct visualization of individual cone and rod photoreceptors in the living human retina, these techniques largely detect strongly directionally-backscattered (waveguided) light from normal intact photoreceptors. This represents a major limitation in using existing AO imaging to quantify structure of remnant cones in degenerating retina.
Photoreceptor inner segment structure was assessed with a novel AO scanning light ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) differential phase technique, that we termed nonconfocal split-detector, in two healthy subjects and four subjects with achromatopsia. Ex vivo preparations of five healthy donor eyes were analyzed for comparison of inner segment diameter to that measured in vivo with split-detector AOSLO.
Nonconfocal split-detector AOSLO reveals the photoreceptor inner segment with or without the presence of a waveguiding outer segment. The diameter of inner segments measured in vivo is in good agreement with histology. A substantial number of foveal and parafoveal cone photoreceptors with apparently intact inner segments were identified in patients with the inherited disease achromatopsia.
The application of nonconfocal split-detector to emerging human gene therapy trials will improve the potential of therapeutic success, by identifying patients with sufficient retained photoreceptor structure to benefit the most from intervention. Additionally, split-detector imaging may be useful for studies of other retinal degenerations such as AMD, retinitis pigmentosa, and choroideremia where the outer segment is lost before the remainder of the photoreceptor cell.
A new ophthalmic imaging technique that reveals the photoreceptor inner segment is presented and validated. The presence of retained cone photoreceptors is demonstrated in the inherited disease achromatopsia, which has significant impact for upcoming gene therapy trials.
PMCID: PMC4095721  PMID: 24906859
AOSLO; photoreceptor; gene therapy
2.  Relationship Between Foveal Cone Specialization and Pit Morphology in Albinism 
Albinism is associated with disrupted foveal development, though intersubject variability is becoming appreciated. We sought to quantify this variability, and examine the relationship between foveal cone specialization and pit morphology in patients with a clinical diagnosis of albinism.
We recruited 32 subjects with a clinical diagnosis of albinism. DNA was obtained from 25 subjects, and known albinism genes were analyzed for mutations. Relative inner and outer segment (IS and OS) lengthening (fovea-to-perifovea ratio) was determined from manually segmented spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) B-scans. Foveal pit morphology was quantified for eight subjects from macular SD-OCT volumes. Ten subjects underwent imaging with adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO), and cone density was measured.
We found mutations in 22 of 25 subjects, including five novel mutations. All subjects lacked complete excavation of inner retinal layers at the fovea, though four subjects had foveal pits with normal diameter and/or volume. Peak cone density and OS lengthening were variable and overlapped with that observed in normal controls. A fifth hyper-reflective band was observed in the outer retina on SD-OCT in the majority of the subjects with albinism.
Foveal cone specialization and pit morphology vary greatly in albinism. Normal cone packing was observed in the absence of a foveal pit, suggesting a pit is not required for packing to occur. The degree to which retinal anatomy correlates with genotype or visual function remains unclear, and future examination of larger patient groups will provide important insight on this issue.
Foveal specialization (foveal cone packing, outer segment elongation, pit morphology) in albinism is highly variable and can overlap with normal foveal structure, contrary to the typical clinical picture of albinism.
PMCID: PMC4098060  PMID: 24845642
albinism; adaptive optics; foveal morphology; foveal development
3.  Retinal Structure and Function in Achromatopsia: Implications for Gene Therapy 
Ophthalmology  2013;121(1):234-245.
To characterize retinal structure and function in achromatopsia (ACHM) in preparation for clinical trials of gene therapy.
Cross-sectional study.
Forty subjects with ACHM.
All subjects underwent spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), microperimetry, and molecular genetic testing. Foveal structure on SD-OCT was graded into 5 distinct categories: (i) continuous inner segment ellipsoid (ISe), (ii) ISe disruption, (iii) ISe absence, (iv) presence of a hyporeflective zone (HRZ), and (v) outer retinal atrophy including retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) loss. Foveal and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness was measured, and presence of hypoplasia determined.
Main Outcome Measures
Photoreceptor appearance on SD-OCT imaging; foveal and ONL thickness; presence of foveal hypoplasia; retinal sensitivity and fixation stability; and association of these parameters with age and genotype.
Forty subjects with mean age of 24.9 years (range 6 to 52) were included. Disease-causing variants were found in CNGA3 (n=18), CNGB3 (n=15), GNAT2 (n=4), and PDE6C (n=1). No variants were found in 2 individuals. 22.5% of subjects had a continuous ISe layer at the fovea; 27.5% had ISe disruption; 20% had an absent ISe layer; 22.5% had a HRZ; and 7.5% had outer retinal atrophy. No significant differences in age (p=0.77), mean retinal sensitivity (p=0.21) or fixation stability (p=0.34) across the 5 SD-OCT categories were evident. No significant correlation was found between age and foveal thickness (p=0.84), or between age and foveal ONL thickness (p=0.12).
The lack of clear association of disruption of retinal structure or function in ACHM with age suggests that the window of opportunity for intervention by gene therapy is wider in some individuals than previously indicated. Therefore the potential benefit for a given subject is likely to be better predicted by specific measurement of photoreceptor structure rather than simply by age. The ability to directly assess cone photoreceptor preservation with SD-OCT and/or adaptive optics imaging is likely to prove invaluable in selecting subjects for future trials and measuring their impact.
PMCID: PMC3895408  PMID: 24148654
4.  Microscopic Inner Retinal Hyper-Reflective Phenotypes in Retinal and Neurologic Disease 
We surveyed inner retinal microscopic features in retinal and neurologic disease using a reflectance confocal adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO).
Inner retinal images from 101 subjects affected by one of 38 retinal or neurologic conditions and 11 subjects with no known eye disease were examined for the presence of hyper-reflective features other than vasculature, retinal nerve fiber layer, and foveal pit reflex. The hyper-reflective features in the AOSLO images were grouped based on size, location, and subjective texture. Clinical imaging, including optical coherence tomography (OCT), scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, and fundus photography was analyzed for comparison.
Seven categories of hyper-reflective inner retinal structures were identified, namely punctate reflectivity, nummular (disc-shaped) reflectivity, granular membrane, waxy membrane, vessel-associated membrane, microcysts, and striate reflectivity. Punctate and nummular reflectivity also was found commonly in normal volunteers, but the features in the remaining five categories were found only in subjects with retinal or neurologic disease. Some of the features were found to change substantially between follow up imaging months apart.
Confocal reflectance AOSLO imaging revealed a diverse spectrum of normal and pathologic hyper-reflective inner and epiretinal features, some of which were previously unreported. Notably, these features were not disease-specific, suggesting that they might correspond to common mechanisms of degeneration or repair in pathologic states. Although prospective studies with larger and better characterized populations, along with imaging of more extensive retinal areas are needed, the hyper-reflective structures reported here could be used as disease biomarkers, provided their specificity is studied further.
The human inner retina was examined with confocal adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy. Seven non–disease-specific categories of hyper-reflective structures were identified, suggesting common mechanisms of degeneration or repair in pathologic states.
PMCID: PMC4078949  PMID: 24894394
adaptive optics; inner retina; ophthalmoscopy; neuro-ophthalmology; retinal disease
5.  Human Cone Visual Pigment Deletions Spare Sufficient Photoreceptors to Warrant Gene Therapy 
Human Gene Therapy  2013;24(12):993-1006.
Human X-linked blue-cone monochromacy (BCM), a disabling congenital visual disorder of cone photoreceptors, is a candidate disease for gene augmentation therapy. BCM is caused by either mutations in the red (OPN1LW) and green (OPN1MW) cone photoreceptor opsin gene array or large deletions encompassing portions of the gene array and upstream regulatory sequences that would predict a lack of red or green opsin expression. The fate of opsin-deficient cone cells is unknown. We know that rod opsin null mutant mice show rapid postnatal death of rod photoreceptors. Using in vivo histology with high-resolution retinal imaging, we studied a cohort of 20 BCM patients (age range 5–58) with large deletions in the red/green opsin gene array. Already in the first years of life, retinal structure was not normal: there was partial loss of photoreceptors across the central retina. Remaining cone cells had detectable outer segments that were abnormally shortened. Adaptive optics imaging confirmed the existence of inner segments at a spatial density greater than that expected for the residual blue cones. The evidence indicates that human cones in patients with deletions in the red/green opsin gene array can survive in reduced numbers with limited outer segment material, suggesting potential value of gene therapy for BCM.
PMCID: PMC3868405  PMID: 24067079
6.  Rapid, Accurate, and Non-Invasive Measurement of Zebrafish Axial Length and Other Eye Dimensions Using SD-OCT Allows Longitudinal Analysis of Myopia and Emmetropization 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110699.
Refractive errors in vision can be caused by aberrant axial length of the eye, irregular corneal shape, or lens abnormalities. Causes of eye length overgrowth include multiple genetic loci, and visual parameters. We evaluate zebrafish as a potential animal model for studies of the genetic, cellular, and signaling basis of emmetropization and myopia. Axial length and other eye dimensions of zebrafish were measured using spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). We used ocular lens and body metrics to normalize and compare eye size and relative refractive error (difference between observed retinal radial length and controls) in wild-type and lrp2 zebrafish. Zebrafish were dark-reared to assess effects of visual deprivation on eye size. Two relative measurements, ocular axial length to body length and axial length to lens diameter, were found to accurately normalize comparisons of eye sizes between different sized fish (R2 = 0.9548, R2 = 0.9921). Ray-traced focal lengths of wild-type zebrafish lenses were equal to their retinal radii, while lrp2 eyes had longer retinal radii than focal lengths. Both genetic mutation (lrp2) and environmental manipulation (dark-rearing) caused elongated eye axes. lrp2 mutants had relative refractive errors of −0.327 compared to wild-types, and dark-reared wild-type fish had relative refractive errors of −0.132 compared to light-reared siblings. Therefore, zebrafish eye anatomy (axial length, lens radius, retinal radius) can be rapidly and accurately measured by SD-OCT, facilitating longitudinal studies of regulated eye growth and emmetropization. Specifically, genes homologous to human myopia candidates may be modified, inactivated or overexpressed in zebrafish, and myopia-sensitizing conditions used to probe gene-environment interactions. Our studies provide foundation for such investigations into genetic contributions that control eye size and impact refractive errors.
PMCID: PMC4205002  PMID: 25334040
7.  Selective Cone Photoreceptor Injury in Acute Macular Neuroretinopathy 
Retina (Philadelphia, Pa.)  2013;33(8):1650-1658.
To evaluate retinal structural and functional abnormalities in a patient with Acute Macular Neuroretinopathy (AMN).
An adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) was used to image the photoreceptor mosaic and assess rod and cone structure. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) was used to examine retinal lamination. Microperimetry was used to assess function across the macula.
Microperimetry showed reduced function of localized areas within retinal lesions corresponding to subjective scotomas. SD-OCT imaging revealed attenuation of two outer retinal bands typically thought to reflect photoreceptor structure. AOSLO images of the photoreceptor mosaic revealed a heterogeneous presentation within these lesions. There were areas containing non-waveguiding cones and other areas of decreased cone density where the remaining rods had expanded to fill in the vacant space. Within these lesions, cone densities were shown to be significantly lower than eccentricity matched areas of normal retina, as well as accepted histological measurements. A 6-month follow up revealed no change in rod or cone structure.
Imaging of AMN using an AOSLO shows a preferential disruption of cone photoreceptor structure within the region of decreased retinal sensitivity (as measured by microperimetry). AO-based imaging tools provide a noninvasive way to assess photoreceptor structure at a level of detail that is not resolved by use of conventional SD-OCT or other clinical measures.
PMCID: PMC4065781  PMID: 23615345
Acute Macular Neuroretinopathy; Adaptive Optics; Cones; Macula; Optical Coherence Tomography; Photoreceptors; Retinal Imaging
8.  Classification of Human Retinal Microaneurysms Using Adaptive Optics Scanning Light Ophthalmoscope Fluorescein Angiography 
Microaneurysms (MAs) are considered a hallmark of retinal vascular disease, yet what little is known about them is mostly based upon histology, not clinical observation. Here, we use the recently developed adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) fluorescein angiography (FA) to image human MAs in vivo and to expand on previously described MA morphologic classification schemes.
Patients with vascular retinopathies (diabetic, hypertensive, and branch and central retinal vein occlusion) were imaged with reflectance AOSLO and AOSLO FA. Ninety-three MAs, from 14 eyes, were imaged and classified according to appearance into six morphologic groups: focal bulge, saccular, fusiform, mixed, pedunculated, and irregular. The MA perimeter, area, and feret maximum and minimum were correlated to morphology and retinal pathology. Select MAs were imaged longitudinally in two eyes.
Adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope fluorescein angiography imaging revealed microscopic features of MAs not appreciated on conventional images. Saccular MAs were most prevalent (47%). No association was found between the type of retinal pathology and MA morphology (P = 0.44). Pedunculated and irregular MAs were among the largest MAs with average areas of 4188 and 4116 μm2, respectively. Focal hypofluorescent regions were noted in 30% of MAs and were more likely to be associated with larger MAs (3086 vs. 1448 μm2, P = 0.0001).
Retinal MAs can be classified in vivo into six different morphologic types, according to the geometry of their two-dimensional (2D) en face view. Adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope fluorescein angiography imaging of MAs offers the possibility of studying microvascular change on a histologic scale, which may help our understanding of disease progression and treatment response.
With adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope fluorescein angiography (AOSLO FA), microaneurysms (MA) were classified into six distinct morphologies and measured quantitatively with a high degree of interuser reproducibility. Microaneurysm stability, growth, and regression were noted in serial exams.
PMCID: PMC3943418  PMID: 24425852
microaneurysm; AOSLO; fluorescein angiography
9.  Outer Retinal Structure in Best Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy 
JAMA ophthalmology  2013;131(9):1207-1215.
To characterize outer retinal structure in Best Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy (BVMD), using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO).
Four symptomatic members of a family with BVMD with known BEST1 gene mutation were recruited. Thickness of two outer retinal layers corresponding to photoreceptor inner and outer segments were measured using SD-OCT. Photoreceptor mosaic AOSLO images within and around visible lesions were obtained, and cone density was assessed in two subjects.
Each subject was at a different stage of BVMD, with photoreceptor disruption evident by AOSLO at all stages. When comparing SD-OCT and AOSLO images from the same location, AOSLO images allowed for direct assessment of photoreceptor structure. A variable degree of retained photoreceptors was seen within all lesions. The photoreceptor mosaic immediately adjacent to visible lesions appeared contiguous and was of normal density. Fine hyperreflective structures were visualized by AOSLO, and their anatomical orientation and size are consistent with Henle fibers.
AOSLO findings indicate substantial photoreceptor structure persists within active lesions, accounting for good visual acuity in these patients. Despite previous reports of diffuse photoreceptor outer segment abnormalities in BVMD, our data reveal normal photoreceptor structure in areas adjacent to clinical lesions.
Clinical Relevance
This study demonstrates the utility of AOSLO for understanding the spectrum of cellular changes that occur in inherited degenerations such as BVMD. Photoreceptors are often significantly affected at various stages of inherited degenerations, and these changes may not be readily apparent with current clinical imaging instrumentation.
PMCID: PMC3968428  PMID: 23765342
10.  Subclinical Macular Findings in Infants Screened for Retinopathy of Prematurity with Spectral Domain-Optical Coherence Tomography 
Ophthalmology  2013;120(8):1665-1671.
To evaluate subclinical macular findings in premature patients at risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) with the use of handheld spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).
Prospective, observational case series.
Forty-nine prematurely born neonates.
Forty-nine infants were imaged using a handheld SD-OCT. Images were acquired in non-sedated infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Some patients were followed and re-imaged over the course of several weeks. Two hundred ninety-eight total images were acquired, and evaluated for cystoid macular edema (CME) and persistence of inner retinal layers.
Main Outcome Measures
In vivo determination of foveal retinal lamination, image analysis and clinical observation.
Two hundred forty (81%) of the images from 45 patients were usable (defined as having scans passing through the fovea with clearly identifiable retinal layers). Persistence of one or more inner retinal layers was seen in 42 patients (93%). Patients with at least one persistent layer, 16, 5, 7, 13 and 1 had a maximum ROP stage of 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4A respectively. CME was seen in 25 of the 45 patients (56%) during one or more imaging sessions. CME was present in 9, 1, 5, 9, and 1 patient with maximum ROP stage of 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4A respectively.
Our data suggests there is persistence of inner retinal layers in premature infants, regardless of maximal ROP stage. Subclinical CME is seen in premature infants; however, CME does not appear to be correlated with ROP stage. This suggests that there maybe other etiologies for the CME seen in this patient population. Hand-held SD-OCT imaging is a viable technique for evaluating subclinical macular findings in premature infants, though larger datasets are needed from multiple centers to further evaluate the generalizability of these findings.
PMCID: PMC3737379  PMID: 23672969
11.  Adaptation of the Central Retina for High Acuity Vision: Cones, the Fovea and the Avascular Zone 
Presence of a fovea centralis is directly linked to molecular specification of an avascular area in central retina, before the fovea (or `pit') begins to form. Modeling suggests that mechanical forces, generated within the eye, initiate formation of a pit within the avascular area, and its later remodeling in the postnatal period. Within the avascular area the retina is dominated by `midget' circuitry, in which signals are transferred from a single cone to a single bipolar cell, then a single ganglion cell. Thus in inner, central retina there are relatively few lateral connections between neurons. This renders the region adaptable to tangential forces, that translocate of ganglion cells laterally / centrifugally, to form the fovea. Optical coherence tomography enables live imaging of the retina, and shows that there is greater variation in the morphology of foveae in humans than previously thought. This variation is associated with differences in size of the avascular area and appears to be genetically based, but can be modified by environmental factors, including prematurity. Even when the fovea is absent (foveal hypoplasia), cones in central retina adopt an elongated and narrow morphology, enabling them to pack more densely to increase the sampling rate, and to act as more effective waveguides. Given these findings, what then is the adaptive advantage of a fovea? We suggest that the advantages of having a pit in central retina are relatively few, and minor, but together work to enhance acuity.
PMCID: PMC3658155  PMID: 23500068
fovea centralis; area centralis; foveal avascular zone; cone photoreceptors; axon guidance factors; antiangiogenic factors; Stiles-Crawford Effects; Fresnel numbers; visual acuity
12.  Automatic detection of modal spacing (Yellott’s ring) in AOSLO images 
An impediment for the clinical utilisation of ophthalmic adaptive optics imaging systems is the automated assessment of photoreceptor mosaic integrity. Here we propose a fully automated algorithm for estimating photoreceptor density based on the radius of Yellott’s ring.
The discrete Fourier transform (DFT) was used to obtain the power spectrum for a series of images of the human photoreceptor mosaic. Cell spacing is estimated by least-square fitting an annular pattern with a Gaussian cross section to the power spectrum; the radius of the resulting annulus provides an estimate of the modal spacing of the photoreceptors in the retinal image. The intrasession repeatability of the cone density estimates from the algorithm was evaluated, and the accuracy of the algorithm was validated against direct count estimates from a previous study. Accuracy in the presence of multiple cell types and disruptions in the mosaic was examined using images from 4 patients with retinal pathology and perifoveal images from 2 subjects with normal vision.
Intrasession repeatability of the power spectrum method was comparable to a fully automated direct counting algorithm, but worse than that for the manually adjusted direct count values. In images of the normal parafoveal cone mosaic, we find good agreement between the power-spectrum derived density and that from the direct counting algorithm. In diseased eyes, the power spectrum method is insensitive to photoreceptor loss, with cone density estimates overestimating the density determined with direct counting. The automated power spectrum method also produced unreliable estimates of rod and cone density in perifoveal images of the photoreceptor mosaic, though manual correction of the initial algorithm output results in density estimates in better agreement with direct count values.
We developed and validated an automated algorithm based on the power spectrum for extracting estimates of cone spacing, from which estimates of density can be derived. This approach may be used to estimate cone density in images where not every single cone is visible, though caution is needed, as this robustness becomes a weakness when dealing with images from patients with some retinal diseases. This study represents an important first step in carefully assessing the relative utility of metrics for analysing the photoreceptor mosaic, and similar analyses of other metrics/algorithms are needed.
PMCID: PMC3690144  PMID: 23668233
retinal imaging; adaptive optics; photoreceptor; repeatability
13.  Adaptive Optics Retinal Imaging – Clinical Opportunities and Challenges 
Current eye research  2013;38(7):709-721.
The array of therapeutic options available to clinicians for treating retinal disease is expanding. With these advances comes the need for better understanding of the etiology of these diseases on a cellular level as well as improved non-invasive tools for identifying the best candidates for given therapies and monitoring the efficacy of those therapies. While spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) offers a widely available tool for clinicians to assay the living retina, it suffers from poor lateral resolution due to the eye’s monochromatic aberrations. Adaptive optics (AO) is a technique to compensate for the eye’s aberrations and provide nearly diffraction-limited resolution. The result is the ability to visualize the living retina with cellular resolution. While AO is unquestionably a powerful research tool, many clinicians remain undecided on the clinical potential of AO imaging – putting many at a crossroads with respect to adoption of this technology. This review will briefly summarize the current state of AO retinal imaging, discuss current as well as future clinical applications of AO retinal imaging, and finally provide some discussion of research needs to facilitate more widespread clinical use.
PMCID: PMC4031042  PMID: 23621343
retinal imaging; adaptive optics; retinal degeneration; photoreceptor
14.  X-linked cone dystrophy and colour vision deficiency arising from a missense mutation in a hybrid L/M cone opsin gene 
Vision research  2013;80:41-50.
In this report, we describe a male subject who presents with a complex phenotype of myopia associated with cone dysfunction and a protan vision deficiency. Retinal imaging demonstrates extensive cone disruption, including the presence of non-waveguiding cones, an overall thinning of the retina, and an irregular mottled appearance of the hyper reflective band associated with the inner segment ellipsoid portion of the photoreceptor. Mutation screening revealed a novel p.Glu41Lys missense mutation in a hybrid L/M opsin gene. Spectral analysis shows that the mutant opsin fails to form a pigment in vitro and fails to be trafficked to the cell membrane in transfected Neuro2a cells. Extensive sequence and quantitative PCR analysis identifies this mutant gene as the only gene present in the affected subject’s L/M opsin gene array, yet the presence of protanopia indicates that the mutant opsin must retain some activity in vivo. To account for this apparent contradiction, we propose that a limited amount of functional pigment is formed within the normal cellular environment of the intact photoreceptor, and that this requires the presence of chaperone proteins that promote stability and normal folding of the mutant protein.
PMCID: PMC3594517  PMID: 23337435
Colour vision; visual pigments; dichromacy; opsin mutation; cone dysfunction; retinal imaging
15.  Relationship Between Foveal Cone Structure and Clinical Measures of Visual Function in Patients With Inherited Retinal Degenerations 
To study the relationship between cone spacing and density and clinical measures of visual function near the fovea.
High-resolution images of the photoreceptor mosaic were obtained with adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy from 26 patients with inherited retinal degenerations. Cone spacing measures were made close to or at the foveal center (mean [SD] eccentricity, 0.02 [0.03] degree; maximum eccentricity, 0.13 degree) and were converted to Z-scores, fraction of cones, and percentage-of-cones-below-average compared with normal values for each location (based on 37 age-similar visually normal eyes). Z-scores and percentage of cones below average were compared with best-corrected visual acuity (VA) and foveal sensitivity.
Visual acuity was significantly correlated with cone spacing (Spearman rank correlation ρ = −0.60, P = 0.003) and was preserved (≥80 letters), despite cone density measures that were 52% below normal. Foveal sensitivity showed significant correlation with cone spacing (ρ = −0.47, P = 0.017) and remained normal (≥35 decibels), despite density measures that were approximately 52% to 62% below normal.
Cone density was reduced by up to 62% below normal at or near the fovea in eyes with VA and sensitivity that remained within normal limits. Despite a significant correlation with foveal cone spacing, VA and sensitivity are insensitive indicators of the integrity of the foveal cone mosaic. Direct, objective measures of cone structure may be more sensitive indicators of disease severity than VA or foveal sensitivity in eyes with inherited retinal degenerations. ( number, NCT00254605.)
Foveal cone structure is significantly correlated with foveal sensitivity and visual acuity in patients with inherited retinal degenerations, although 52% to 62% cone density reduction may occur before abnormal changes are observed in these clinical measures of function.
PMCID: PMC3757906  PMID: 23908179
adaptive optics; cone structure; fovea; visual acuity; cone sensitivity
16.  Assessing Retinal Structure In Complete Congenital Stationary Night Blindness and Oguchi Disease 
American journal of ophthalmology  2012;154(6):987-1001.e1.
To examine retinal structure and changes in photoreceptor intensity post-dark adaptation in patients with complete congenital stationary night blindness and Oguchi disease.
Prospective observational case series.
We recruited three patients with complete congenital stationary night blindness caused by mutations in GRM6, two brothers with Oguchi disease caused by mutations in GRK1, and one normal control. Retinal thickness was measured from optical coherence tomography (OCT) images. Integrity of the rod and cone mosaic was assessed using adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy. We imaged five of the patients following a period of dark adaptation, and examined layer reflectivity on OCT in a patient with Oguchi disease under light- and dark-adapted conditions.
Retinal thickness was reduced in the parafoveal region in patients with GRM6 mutations, as a result of decreased thickness of the inner retinal layers. All patients had normal photoreceptor density at all locations analyzed. Upon removal from dark adaptation, the intensity of the rods (but not cones) in the patients with Oguchi disease gradually and significantly increased. In one Oguchi patient, the outer segment layer contrast on OCT was fourfold higher under dark-adapted versus light-adapted conditions.
The selective thinning of the inner retinal layers in patients with GRM6 mutations suggests either reduced bipolar/ganglion cell numbers or altered synaptic structure in the inner retina. Our finding that rods, but not cones, change intensity after dark adaptation suggests that fundus changes in Oguchi disease are due to changes within the rods as opposed to changes at a different retinal locus.
PMCID: PMC3498541  PMID: 22959359
18.  Evaluation of normal human foveal development using optical coherence tomography and histologic examination 
Archives of ophthalmology  2012;130(10):1291-1300.
Assess outer retinal layer maturation during late gestation and early postnatal life using optical coherence tomography (OCT) and histology.
Thirty-nine subjects ranging from 32 weeks post-menstrual age (PMA) to 4 years were imaged using a hand held OCT (102 imaging sessions). Foveal images from 16 subjects (21 imaging sessions) were normal and evaluated for inner retinal excavation and presence of outer retinal reflective bands. Reflectivity profiles of central, parafoveal, and perifoveal retina were extracted and compared to age-matched histological sections.
Foveal pit morphology in infants was generally distinguishable from adults. Reflectivity profiles showed a single hyper-reflective band at the fovea in all infants less than 42 weeks PMA. Multiple bands were distinguishable in the outer retina at the perifovea by 32 weeks PMA, and at the fovea by 3 months post term. By 17 months postnatal the characteristic appearance of four hyper-reflective bands was evident across the foveal region. These features are consistent with previous results from histology. A ‘temporal divot’ was present in some infants and foveal pit morphology and extent of inner retinal excavation was variable.
Hand-held OCT imaging is a viable technique for evaluating neonatal retinas. In premature infants, who do not develop ROP, the foveal region appears to follow a developmental time course similar to in utero maturation.
Clinical Relevance
As pediatric OCT imaging becomes more common, a better understanding of normal foveal and macular development is needed. Longitudinal imaging offers the opportunity to track postnatal foveal development in preterm infants where poor visual outcomes are anticipated or to track treatment outcomes in this population.
PMCID: PMC3724218  PMID: 23044942
19.  High-Resolution Images of Retinal Structure in Patients with Choroideremia 
To study retinal structure in choroideremia patients and carriers using high-resolution imaging techniques.
Subjects from four families (six female carriers and five affected males) with choroideremia (CHM) were characterized with best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), kinetic and static perimetry, full-field electroretinography, and fundus autofluorescence (FAF). High-resolution macular images were obtained with adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) and spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Coding regions of the CHM gene were sequenced.
Molecular analysis of the CHM gene identified a deletion of exons 9 to 15 in family A, a splice site mutation at position 79+1 of exon 1 in family B, deletion of exons 6 to 8 in family C, and a substitution at position 106 causing a premature stop in family D. BCVA ranged from 20/16 to 20/63 in carriers and from 20/25 to 5/63 in affected males. FAF showed abnormalities in all subjects. SD-OCT showed outer retinal layer loss, outer retinal tubulations at the margin of outer retinal loss, and inner retinal microcysts. Patchy cone loss was present in two symptomatic carriers. In two affected males, cone mosaics were disrupted with increased cone spacing near the fovea but more normal cone spacing near the edge of atrophy.
High-resolution retinal images in CHM carriers and affected males demonstrated RPE and photoreceptor cell degeneration. As both RPE and photoreceptor cells were affected, these cell types may degenerate simultaneously in CHM. These findings provide insight into the effect of CHM mutations on macular retinal structure, with implications for the development of treatments for CHM. ( number, NCT00254605.)
High-resolution retinal images in choroideremia carriers and affected males demonstrated degeneration of retinal pigment epithelial and photoreceptor cells. The findings illustrate the effect of CHM mutations on macular cone structure, with implications for the development of treatments for CHM.
PMCID: PMC3564452  PMID: 23299470
20.  In vivo imaging of human retinal microvasculature using adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope fluorescein angiography 
Biomedical Optics Express  2013;4(8):1305-1317.
The adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) allows visualization of microscopic structures of the human retina in vivo. In this work, we demonstrate its application in combination with oral and intravenous (IV) fluorescein angiography (FA) to the in vivo visualization of the human retinal microvasculature. Ten healthy subjects ages 20 to 38 years were imaged using oral (7 and/or 20 mg/kg) and/or IV (500 mg) fluorescein. In agreement with current literature, there were no adverse effects among the patients receiving oral fluorescein while one patient receiving IV fluorescein experienced some nausea and heaving. We determined that all retinal capillary beds can be imaged using clinically accepted fluorescein dosages and safe light levels according to the ANSI Z136.1-2000 maximum permissible exposure. As expected, the 20 mg/kg oral dose showed higher image intensity for a longer period of time than did the 7 mg/kg oral and the 500 mg IV doses. The increased resolution of AOSLO FA, compared to conventional FA, offers great opportunity for studying physiological and pathological vascular processes.
PMCID: PMC3756583  PMID: 24009994
(110.1080) Active or adaptive optics; (330.5380) Physiology; (170.1610) Clinical applications; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (170.4470) Ophthalmology
21.  The Effect of Cone Opsin Mutations on Retinal Structure and the Integrity of the Photoreceptor Mosaic 
To evaluate retinal structure and photoreceptor mosaic integrity in subjects with OPN1LW and OPN1MW mutations.
Eleven subjects were recruited, eight of whom have been previously described. Cone and rod density was measured using images of the photoreceptor mosaic obtained from an adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO). Total retinal thickness, inner retinal thickness, and outer nuclear layer plus Henle fiber layer (ONL+HFL) thickness were measured using cross-sectional spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) images. Molecular genetic analyses were performed to characterize the OPN1LW/OPN1MW gene array.
While disruptions in retinal lamination and cone mosaic structure were observed in all subjects, genotype-specific differences were also observed. For example, subjects with “L/M interchange” mutations resulting from intermixing of ancestral OPN1LW and OPN1MW genes had significant residual cone structure in the parafovea (∼25% of normal), despite widespread retinal disruption that included a large foveal lesion and thinning of the parafoveal inner retina. These subjects also reported a later-onset, progressive loss of visual function. In contrast, subjects with the C203R missense mutation presented with congenital blue cone monochromacy, with retinal lamination defects being restricted to the ONL+HFL and the degree of residual cone structure (8% of normal) being consistent with that expected for the S-cone submosaic.
The photoreceptor phenotype associated with OPN1LW and OPN1MW mutations is highly variable. These findings have implications for the potential restoration of visual function in subjects with opsin mutations. Our study highlights the importance of high-resolution phenotyping to characterize cellular structure in inherited retinal disease; such information will be critical for selecting patients most likely to respond to therapeutic intervention and for establishing a baseline for evaluating treatment efficacy.
Subjects with OPN1LW and OPN1MW mutations showed a spectrum of retinal phenotypes with genotype-specific differences. This has implications for restoration of visual function in these subjects and highlights high-resolution retinal imaging as a complementary tool for emerging therapeutic efforts.
PMCID: PMC3816954  PMID: 23139274
22.  Automatic cone photoreceptor segmentation using graph theory and dynamic programming 
Biomedical Optics Express  2013;4(6):924-937.
Geometrical analysis of the photoreceptor mosaic can reveal subclinical ocular pathologies. In this paper, we describe a fully automatic algorithm to identify and segment photoreceptors in adaptive optics ophthalmoscope images of the photoreceptor mosaic. This method is an extension of our previously described closed contour segmentation framework based on graph theory and dynamic programming (GTDP). We validated the performance of the proposed algorithm by comparing it to the state-of-the-art technique on a large data set consisting of over 200,000 cones and posted the results online. We found that the GTDP method achieved a higher detection rate, decreasing the cone miss rate by over a factor of five.
PMCID: PMC3675871  PMID: 23761854
(100.0100) Image processing; (170.4470) Ophthalmology; (110.1080) Active or adaptive optics
23.  The Repeatability of In Vivo Parafoveal Cone Density and Spacing Measurementsa 
Optometry and Vision Science  2012;89(5):632-643.
To assess the repeatability and measurement error associated with cone density and nearest neighbor distance (NND) estimates in images of the parafoveal cone mosaic obtained with an adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO).
Twenty-one participants with no known ocular pathology were recruited. Four retinal locations, approximately 0.65° eccentricity from the center of fixation were imaged 10 times in randomized order with an AOSLO. Cone coordinates in each image were identified using an automated algorithm (with or without manual correction), from which cone density and NND were calculated. Owing to naturally occurring fixational instability, the 10 images recorded from a given location did not overlap entirely. We thus analyzed each image set both before and after alignment.
Automated estimates of cone density on the unaligned image sets showed a coefficient of repeatability of 11,769 cones/mm2 (17.1%). The primary reason for this variability appears to be fixational instability, as aligning the 10 images to include the exact same retinal area, results in an improved repeatability of 4,358 cones/mm2 (6.4%) using completely automated cone identification software. Repeatability improved further by manually identifying cones missed by the automated algorithm, with a coefficient of repeatability of 1,967 cones/mm2 (2.7%). NND showed improved repeatability, and was generally insensitive to the undersampling by the automated algorithm.
As our data were collected in a young, healthy population, this likely represents a best-case estimate for corresponding measurements in patients with retinal disease. Similar studies need to be carried out on other imaging systems (including those using different imaging modalities, wavefront correction technology, and/or cone identification software), as repeatability would be expected to be highly sensitive to initial image quality and the performance of cone identification algorithms. Separate studies addressing inter-session repeatability and inter-observer reliability are also needed.
PMCID: PMC3348369  PMID: 22504330
retina; cones; adaptive optics; repeatability; photoreceptors
25.  Rhodopsin F45L Allele Does Not Cause Autosomal Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa in a Large Caucasian Family 
To ascertain the potential pathogenicity of a retinitis pigmentosa (RP)-causing RHO F45L allele in a family affected by congenital achromatopsia (ACHM).
Case series/observational study that included two patients with ACHM and 24 extended family members. Molecular genetic analysis was performed to identify RHO F45L carrier status in the family and a control population. An adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) was used to image the photoreceptor mosaic and assess rod and cone structure. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) was used to examine retinal lamination. Comprehensive clinical testing included acuity, color vision, and dilated fundus examination. Electroretinography was used to assess rod and cone function.
Five carriers of the RHO F45L allele alone (24–80 years) and three carriers in combination with a heterozygous CNGA3 mutant allele (10–64 years) were all free of the classic symptoms and signs of RP. In heterozygous carriers of both mutations, SD-OCT showed normal retinal thickness and intact outer retinal layers; rod and cone densities were within normal limits on AOSLO. The phenotype in two individuals affected with ACHM and harboring the RHO F45L allele was indistinguishable from that previously reported for ACHM.
The RHO F45L allele is not pathogenic in this large family; hence, the two ACHM patients would unlikely develop RP in the future.
Translational Relevance
The combined approach of comprehensive molecular analysis of individual genomes and noninvasive cellular resolution retinal imaging enhances the current repertoire of clinical diagnostic tools, giving a substantial impetus to personalized medicine.
PMCID: PMC3763889  PMID: 24049715
exome sequencing; adaptive optics; rhodopsin mutations; retinitis pigmentosa; retinal degeneration

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