Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Eye specialists `light up the brain` to understand sight defects


Eye specialists at the University of Leicester are using a new technique of ‘lighting up the brain’ to investigate and understand eye diseases.

The Ulverscroft Foundation has funded a new five-year research post at the University to probe into the link between the eyes and the brain with a view to increasing knowledge about common eye problems and improving treatment for patients. The Foundation is a charity that the funds production of large print books for visually impaired people.

The University Department of Ophthalmology, based at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, is using the funding for an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Physicist, Dr Catherine Bennett, who is working with University and NHS colleagues in the Departments’, Radiology and Medical Physics.

Head of Ophthalmology at the University of Leicester, Professor Irene Gottlob, said: “Brain scanning, using the methods of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), is used routinely to image the brain and detect abnormalities such as tumours. Although it may seem obvious that we `see` with our eyes - it is the brain that analyses what our eyes see and controls how our eyes move.

Professor Gottlob and Dr Bennett are using a new technique called functional MRI, which takes the MRI one step further.

“This method visualises changes in blood flow in the brain that accompany brain activity. By doing this, it is possible to see which areas of the brain `light up`, or become active, as people look at different pictures and patterns. Understanding how the brain works in conjunction with the eyes is an important step to fully understanding what happens in eye diseases.”

Professor Gottlob said the method was usually used by brain researchers to study normal brain function and neurological disorders - only a few eye diseases have been investigated by this method.

“A large part of the brain is involved in processing the information from what the eye sees but also is responsible for controlling the movement of the eye. The University of Leicester now plans to concentrate on how eye diseases affect brain function,” said Professor Gottlob.

Patients with a number of conditions would be helped with greater understanding of eye problems. Said Professor Gottlob: “There are many common disorders of the visual system, where we don’t understand how the brain has changed.”

“If people have missing parts of their peripheral vision (enlarged `blind spots`), for example, due to glaucoma, they are not aware of the missing information. This often leads to people not recognising their symptoms and being treated too late. The brain `fills-in` the missing information, so the patient sees a complete picture. However, in some patients with a loss of central vision, filling-in could help to orientate a person.”

“Another example is with the eye movement disorder nystagmus where the eyes continually `wobble`. Some patients report a continually moving world, whereas to others the world seems perfectly normal and stationary. We will investigate how the brain and eye work together to do this.”

The Departments of Radiology and Medical Physics have recently purchased and installed a state-of-the-art MRI scanner from Siemens Medical Systems. It is this system that is being used to scan volunteers and patients for the above research. Prior to this post, Dr Bennett worked for Siemens and acquired expert knowledge on the same MRI system, providing training to radiographers and radiologists throughout the UK. Because of her expert knowledge, Dr Bennett is working close together with Radiologists and Radiographers from at the Leicester Royal Infirmary to further develop scanning methods for NHS patients. Research scanning is performed in the evenings or weekends, so no scanning time is taken away from the hospital.

Ather Mirza | alfa

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>