MR-eye 2.0 – SNSF Project on novel imaging tools for the human eye

Prof. Benedetta Franceschiello was awarded an SNSF grant related to the Health Research and Wellbeing UAS and UTE call, entitled:

2.0 MR-Eye: Towards a consensual Magnetic resonance Imaging protocol of the Human Eye

At the QIS lab we are partners on this project, which will be conducted at the 7T scanner at the Translational Imaging Center. It is a follow-up based on prior work that was done together on imaging of the moving human eye.

MRI is a powerful, non-invasive, and versatile technique, considered a pillar in modern medical practice. It provides measurements which reflect properties of the tissues organs and their pathologies, or changes in oxygen level in neural tissue, linked to neural activity (functional MRI). However, one of the most pressing causes of image artifacts is motion, which may prevent the applicability of MRI to moving organs, as the eyes. Ophthalmology is the study of our vision and its organs, the eyes and brain. Nowadays ophthalmic biomedical devices (Ocular Coherence Tomography, Ocular Biometries, Eye-tracking) can extract high-resolution anatomical and behavioral measurements of the eyes but rely on rapid acquisition strategies to avoid eye-movement (which are of the order of milliseconds). Such constrains limit the applicability of MRI in Ophthalmology, “MR-Eye”, to cases where it remains the only imaging method to properly diagnose certain diseases, such as orbital inflammation, tumors and neuropathy. In these cases, clinicians must bypass eye movements, which means that the patient must be anesthetized, patched on his eyelid, or instructed to follow a dot moving in a prescribed way, to discard images corrupted by motion. These procedures are costly in terms of hospital resources, personnel, and experienced as tiring and invasive for the patients. Recently, we implemented and patent an MRI technology which is able to perform 3D anatomical assessments of the randomly moving eye and brain at above millimeter (low) resolution, eliminating the need of patching and anesthetics. The published prototype is the starting point of the current project entitled 2.0 MR-Eye, aiming at developing a comprehensive, non-invasive and motion-corrected clinical imaging tool that can yield anatomical, oculomotor and functional information about the eye at high resolution, without the need of stationary eyes as eye-movements will be corrected with millisecond precision.