A new retinal imaging system was jointly built by the Opto-Electronic Group at HES-SO Valais-Wallis (Sion, Switzerland) and Imagine Eyes (Orsay, France) to analyze blood flow in retinal vessels. This device for the first time enables assessing wall thickness and internal diameter in small vessels, as well as blood velocity. To make it possible, researchers and engineers have worked together to combine the laser Doppler velocimetry technique developed by Prof Martial Geiser’s team at HES-SO with Imagine Eyes’ high-resolution adaptive optics imaging technology. This project has received significant funding from Novartis Pharma, France, as a part of the group’s continuing support to ophthalmological research.
The imaging system has been installed at the University Hospital of Grenoble Ophthalmology Clinic, France, a group renowned for its extensive experience in studying ocular blood flow. “Because many widespread diseases have repercussions in retinal vessels and blood flow, there is a strong need for new improved techniques to assess retinal microcirculation” says Prof Christophe Chiquet, head of the Ophthalmology Clinic. “In the field of glaucoma, laser Doppler velocimetry combined with adaptive optics is a very promising new method to better elucidate the vascular factors associated with the disease, and to improve the follow-up and care of patients affected by this leading cause of blindness” says Prof Florent Aptel, an internationally renowned glaucoma expert at the University hospital of Grenoble.
The new system is a quantum leap forward as it enables analyzing simultaneously both the microscopic structure and the function of retinal vessels. Prof Chiquet adds: “We are now initiating investigations that will advance our understanding of disease development, with strong hope that these studies will lead to significant improvements in the management of several retinal, neurological and cardiovascular conditions.”