Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

07.10.2002


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: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

X-ray scattering shines light on protein folding

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Looking at linkers helps to join the dots

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>