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Prof Fred Fitzke
Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL
11-43 Bath Street
Prof Fred Fitzke profile picture
  • Emeritus Professor
  • Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences
Research Themes
Research Summary
The Laboratory of Physiological Optics research covers two broad areas
the development of novel techniques for imaging the eye and
investigations of visual function using psychophysical methods.
These non-invasive methods are used to understand properties of human vision and how these are affected by well-defined ocular anomalies. The major clinical conditions under study are retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Several novel methods of imaging have made visible elements of the living human eye which until recently have only been seen in post mortem eyes. We have modified a prototype confocal Laser Scanning Ophthalmoscope to provide high magnification images of the photoreceptor mosaic in the living human eye.

The sponge-like structure of the lamina cribrosa through which all the nerve fibres leave the eye to reach the brain can be seen with sufficient quality to provide quantitative image analysis.

Autofluorescence imaging of the retinal pigment epithelium arising from the age pigment, lipofuscin, reveals its distribution in the normal eye and ocular abnormalities.

Approximately ten times improved depth resolution has been achieved with the new prototype Ocular Coherence Tomography-based imaging device. This high resolution instrument provides images at different depths within the retina which approaches some of the structural details normally seen only with the microscope.

Psychophysical investigations have shown characteristic changes in visual function associated with the structural changes revealed in the imaging studies. The depth plane of best visual acuity was found to correspond to the depth plane of the cone photoreceptor mosaic. Abnormal elongation of the pores of the lamina cribrosa is associated with visual loss in the corresponding part of the visual field. Quantitative autofluorescence imaging reveals a relation between abnormal levels and rod and cone photoreceptor dysfunction.

The combination of imaging and functional studies in the living human eye allows us to further our understanding of the underlying causes of visual loss and the effects of interventions.

New methods of detecting loss of visual field and acuity have been developed. These rely on quantitative analysis techniques combined with presentation of complex data to allow earlier detection of visual field loss.

The manner in which different abnormalities of vision affect specific aspects of visual function are being investigated. For example conventional visual acuity tests may reveal little loss of function despite severe degradation of vision. This leads to the need for new tests of visual function which can more completely describe function.

Specific abnormalities of magnocellular and parvocellular function in glaucoma are being studied to further our understanding of these processes. The use of motion detection perimetry has revealed abnormalities of visual function which precede conventional perimetric losses.
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