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Co-invented by OHSU’s Dr. David Huang 25 years ago, OCT technology helps stop blindness

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PORTLAND, Ore.- The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology today published a special anniversary edition in their journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science with more than 70 articles to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the invention of Optical Coherence Tomography technology, co-invented by Oregon Health & Science University Casey Eye Institute's David Huang, M.D., Ph.D. while Huang was a Ph.D. student with James Fujimoto, Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

OCT is the most commonly used ophthalmic diagnostic technology worldwide, with an estimated 30 million OCT imaging procedures performed every year.

"I am pleased to see how well the OCT technology has evolved over the past 25 years to help diagnose and treat the most common causes of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma," said Huang, Peterson Professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering at OHSU Casey Eye Institute. "OCT use continues to grow exponentially in ophthalmology and other medical specialties, including cardiology, dermatology, neurology and gastroenterology."

OCT has transformed the way ophthalmologists are able to diagnose, monitor and treat devastating eye diseases, and it has advanced drug discovery and development. The technology is particularly suitable for the early detection of glaucoma and macular degeneration, diseases that may cause significant damage prior to the appearance of symptoms. OCT is also widely used for diabetic macular edema, the leading cause of blindness in young patients.

"Dr. Huang's contribution to the field of ophthalmology has been tremendous and we are very fortunate to have such a brilliant mind here at Casey Eye Institute and in Oregon," said David J. Wilson, M.D., director of the OHSU Casey Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine. "This anniversary is a perfect opportunity to celebrate OCT as a truly transformative medical technology. Such transformations do not occur often in medicine."

OCT technology has evolved over the past 25 years with great advances in imaging speed and quality. Ophthalmologists can now study disease at the microscopic level without biopsy, and with complete patient comfort. For the first time, eye physicians can visualize and measure blood flow in the smallest of blood vessels, without the need to inject contrast agents. Non-invasive visualization and measurement of blood flow gives great insight into the cause and progression of eye disease.

Huang, who was recently ranked the 4th most influential figure in the world of ophthalmology by The Ophthalmologist PowerList 2016, runs the Center for Ophthalmic Optics and Lasers Lab, or COOL Lab, at Casey Eye Institute which includes a team of top scientists from around the world who have been perfecting OCT technology for more than 15 years. Several members of the lab have contributed articles for the special issue in IOVS (see Related Content for links to articles).

"The special issue focused on Optical Coherence Tomography is a timely compendium of recent research papers that are using this technology that has reshaped our thinking about disease processes and drug mechanisms," said Thomas Yorio, Ph.D., a fellow of ARVO and editor-in-chief at the ARVO journal IOVS. "The ability to utilize OCT and the advances in this imaging technique have allowed us to see sections of the eye in a vastly new way, making surgical procedures easier, clinical observations clearer and providing insight into new research areas. IOVS is excited to host this exciting special issue. Special thanks go to our contributing editors, Dr. Huang and Dr. Fujimoto."

Key OHSU collaborators with Huang's lab include Ou Tan, Ph.D., John C. Morrison, M.D., Yali Jia, Ph.D., Winston Chamberlain, M.D., Ph.D., Steven Bailey, M.D., Thomas S. Hwang, M.D., and Douglas D. Koch, M.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

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The papers published in the ARVO special issue by OHSU faculty were supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers: R01 EY018184, P30 EY010572, R01 EY023285, R01 EY013516, R01 EY010145, R01EY024544, DP3DK104397 and UL1TR000128), an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness and a grant from Optovue, Inc. One of the publications was also made possible with support from the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI), grant number UL1TR000128 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a component of the NIH, and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.

In the interest of ensuring the integrity of our research and as part of our commitment to public transparency, OHSU actively regulates, tracks and manages relationships that our researchers may hold with entities outside of OHSU. In regards to these research projects, Maolong Tang, Ou Tan, Yali Jia, Yan Li and David Huang have significant interests in Optovue, Inc., a company that may have a commercial interest in the results of this research and technology. Review details of OHSU's conflict of interest program to find out more about how we manage these business relationships.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is a nationally prominent research university and Oregon's only public academic health center. It serves patients throughout the region with a Level 1 trauma center and nationally recognized Doernbecher Children's Hospital. OHSU operates dental, medical, nursing and pharmacy schools that rank high both in research funding and in meeting the university's social mission. OHSU's Knight Cancer Institute helped pioneer personalized medicine through a discovery that identified how to shut down cells that enable cancer to grow without harming healthy ones. OHSU Brain Institute scientists are nationally recognized for discoveries that have led to a better understanding of Alzheimer's disease and new treatments for Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke. OHSU's Casey Eye Institute is a global leader in ophthalmic imaging, and in clinical trials related to eye disease.

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