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Modelling of the oxygen delivery and transport in the retina
The retina, inner layer of the eyeball, contains the photoreceptors of the eye, which are responsible for the conversion of light into a biological signal sent to– and interpreted by – the brain. The oxygen and nutrient supplies tothe photoreceptorsis achieved by diffusion down a concentration gradient from the choroid –a highly vascularised pigmented layer beneath the retina – through the retinal tissue. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of impaired vision/blindness in the UK. The cost of its prevention, treatment and management should reach £18 billion per year by 2018. In its most common form, small aggregates, or drusens (see figure above), develop beneath the macula of the retina. Macular photoreceptors degeneration follows, leading to severe central vision loss (the effect of the pathology on the vision can be seen on the pictures below). Another form of the condition involves the development of vessels beneath the macula, with the same consequences in terms of vision loss. Several studies suggest that AMD could be caused by oxidative stress and genetic and environmental factors. The formation of drusens could result from oxidative damages linked with ageing. Recent studies indicate that disturbances in choroidal blood flow and impairment in oxygen diffusionthrough the retina are involved in the pathogenesis of the disease.However, these two hypotheses cannot be tested, for the human eye is inaccessible to measures in vivo because of the extremely invasive nature of the techniques available. New techniques have been developed to access the human retinain vivo but they have shown very limited results so far. The aim of the project is to model the blood flow in the choroid, the oxygen delivery to the retina and oxygen transport through the retinal tissue. The model shouldhelp identify the causes of impairments of oxygen delivery and allow a better understanding of the behaviour of retinal cells in an oxygen-lacking environment, thus opening the way to better-targeted therapeutic treatments for AMD, but also for conditions like Diabetic Retinopathy where an impairment in the oxygen delivery is thought to be involved. People The project is carried out under the supervision of Dr. Ian Eames, Reader in Fluid Mechanics at the UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering of University College London (http://www.mecheng.ucl.ac.uk/staff/?staff_id=ie) and Prof. Phil Luthert, director of the Institute of Ophthalmology of University College London (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/neuroscience/Page.php?ID=12&ResearcherID=298).
1 Researchers
  • Dept of Mechanical Engineering
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