​Imaging Retinal Ganglion Cells

Seminar | October 23 | 12-1:30 p.m. | 489 Minor Hall

 Don Miller, PhD, Indiana University School of Optometry

 Neuroscience Institute, Helen Wills

Abstract: The retinal ganglion cell is the primary cell damaged by glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible visual loss worldwide. While we have a detailed understanding of the atrophy this disease inflicts on retinal ganglion cells, our ability to assess this damage in the living human eye is limited. A major obstacle is the difficulty to image—and thus count—these cells owing to their high optical translucency and close index matching to surrounding cells. Here we show that this obstacle can be overcome with advanced imaging technologies based on adaptive optics and optical coherence tomography, and use of organelle motility inside cell somas as a novel intrinsic contrast agent. We demonstrate retinal ganglion cells and other transparent neurons in the ganglion cell layer can be visualized and quantified across the macula and beyond: whether stacked on each other, lying beneath a thick and highly scattering nerve fiber layer, or aggregated at the foveal rim. Our results indicate this imaging method has the potential for direct detection of retinal ganglion cell loss in patients.