Researchers from three prominent UK universities have just performed the world's first successful three-dimensional MRI scan of the human eye. Ophthalmologists around the world believe this new procedure will give them more insights into the nature of diseases like presbyopia.
In total, 73 participants had their eyes scanned with this MRI machine. All of the people involved in this study were either of south Asian or white European descent.
After the researchers got the 3D images of their patients' eyes, they measured the total retinal surface area using specialized software. In addition to the retinal surface area, doctors were able to accurately measure each participant's retinal quadrant surface area and ocular surface area.
The three universities that took part in this research include Aston University, the University of Bristol, and City, University of London. Dr. Manbir Nagra of City, University of London, was the lead author on this study.
Although this method has been used in the past to determine ocular surface area, Dr. Nagra says this new MRI scan is the first to give an accurate measurement of retinal quadrant surface area. Dr. Nagra says that the only methods doctors have today for measuring retinal surface area are retinal photographs or retinal biopsies.
A major interest for the study authors was how much certain areas of the retina differed in terms of size. They hypothesized that by measuring the differences in axial length they could better determine a person's short or long-sightedness.
In this study, researchers note that people who had longer axial lengths or who were more myopic had a greater retinal surface area. For reference, the average retinal surface area in study participants was 1363±160mm2.
Another interesting finding in this study was that the area of the eye with the largest retinal surface area was in the superior-temporal quadrant. By contrast, the smallest retinal surface area was in the inferior-nasal region.
This novel form of 3D scanning could dramatically help eye doctors determine a person's susceptibility to eye disorders like myopia or presbyopia in the future. There's no word yet when this procedure could become mainstream medical practice.
Along with Dr. Manbir Nagra, authors on this study include Bernard Gilmartin, Ngoc Jade Thai, and Nicola S. Logan. You can find this full article in the June 2017 edition of the Journal of Anatomy under the title, "Determination of Retinal Surface Area."