MacuSight(TM) Initiates Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study

MacuSight(TM), Inc., a
developer of innovative therapeutics for the treatment of severe ocular
diseases and conditions, today announced the initiation of a Phase I study
of its lead product candidate in patients with wet age-related macular
degeneration (wet AMD). This trial, which will enroll a total of 30
patients, is designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of
MacuSight’s proprietary formulation of sirolimus (rapamycin) when
administered in various doses through two different types of ocular

“Today’s announcement is particularly exciting as it comes on the heels
of our recently initiated sirolimus trial for the treatment of diabetic
macular edema,” said David A. Weber, Ph.D., MacuSight’s president and chief
executive officer. “We believe that conducting trials in two severe ocular
indications concurrently serves as a true testament to the versatility and
overall therapeutic potential of sirolimus in the eye. We look forward to
successfully completing both of these trials and continuing to advance this
compound through clinical development.”

Investigators for this randomized, open-label, dose-escalation study
will treat patients with a single subconjunctival (just under the lining
layer over the white of the eye) or intravitreal (into the back of the eye)
injection of MacuSight’s sirolimus formulation. The trial will include six
treatment arms with patients receiving one of three doses of sirolimus via
subconjunctival injection or one of three doses of sirolimus via
intravitreal injection. Each administration of sirolimus will provide the
patient with exposure to the compound for up to approximately three months.

“Direct inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF have
rapidly become the standard of care for patients with exudative [or wet]
AMD. It appears that the next opportunity to advance the treatment of this
disease will likely involve VEGF inhibition in combination with the
targeting of additional factors implicated in its development,” said Mark
Blumenkranz, M.D., chairman of MacuSight’s scientific advisory board and
professor and chairman of the department of ophthalmology, Stanford
University School of Medicine. “As such, we believe that sirolimus has the
potential to play an important role in the evolution of therapeutics for
exudative AMD. This is based on the compound’s demonstrated ability to
broadly inhibit VEGF and other key pro-angiogenic factors, while also
impacting a number of important proliferative and inflammatory pathways.”

Sirolimus, originally known as rapamycin, is a highly-potent,
broad-acting compound that has demonstrated the ability to combat disease
through multiple mechanisms of action including immunosuppressive,
anti-angiogenic, anti- migratory, anti-proliferative, anti-fibrotic and
anti-permeability activity. Based on the versatility associated with these
multiple mechanisms of action, MacuSight believes that its sirolimus
product may serve as a potentially highly-efficacious therapeutic for a
wide range of ocular diseases and conditions, including the treatment and
prevention of wet AMD, as well as the treatment of diabetic macular edema
(DME). The company recently initiated a similar Phase I trial in patients
with DME.

As the active pharmaceutical ingredient in the FDA-approved products
Rapamune(R) and CYPHER(R) Sirolimus-eluting Coronary Stent, sirolimus has
been safely administered to humans for more than six years. MacuSight has
developed a proprietary minimally-invasive, sustained administration
approach for its novel liquid sirolimus formulation which it believes will
provide the product with significant competitive advantages related to
convenience, ease- of-use, compliance and safety.

About Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual
loss in the western world. This disease of the aging eye results in loss of
the sharp, central vision that is necessary for clearly seeing objects and
undertaking routine tasks including reading and driving. AMD occurs in both
wet and dry forms, with the wet form accounting for the vast majority of
cases of AMD-related blindness and progressing much more rapidly than dry.

It is presently estimated that wet AMD affects approximately two
million Americans. Growing at an annual rate of approximately 13%, it is
expected that the total number of patients will exceed 3.5 million by 2010.
Industry experts expect the total U.S. market opportunity for wet AMD
therapeutics to reach close to $2 billion by that time.

About MacuSight

MacuSight is a privately-held pharmaceutical company focused on
developing innovative therapeutics for the treatment of severe ocular
diseases and conditions. The company is dedicated to preserving patients’
vision by identifying known, highly-potent and broad-acting small molecule
drug compounds that may possess efficacy in treating and/or preventing
diseases or conditions of the eye. As part of its unique product
development philosophy, MacuSight also concentrates on the optimal delivery
of these compounds into the eye. By combining its compounds with innovative
delivery approaches, the company strives to optimize the efficacy, safety,
convenience and cost- effectiveness of its product candidates.

The company’s lead development program is centered on advancing
sirolimus (rapamycin) as a potential next-generation therapeutic for the
treatment and prevention of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD)
and the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), a manifestation of
diabetic retinopathy.

MacuSight, Inc.


Blink Often To Avoid Computer Related Eye Woes

Blink frequently while sitting in front of your monitor to reduce the risk of dry eyes from prolonged computer use, said an optometrist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

“Many work in front of a computer all day and this can leave vision vulnerable to problems like dry eyes, eyestrain and other problems that may signal computer vision syndrome,” said Keshia Sims Elder, assistant professor in the UAB School of Optometry. “Blinking keeps the front surface of the eye moist.”

There are other ways to protect sight and avoid computer vision syndrome, Elder said. In addition to blinking, computer users should:

— Have a regular comprehensive eye exam to ensure healthy eyes and correct eyeglass or contact-lens strength. “Be certain to tell your optometrist about the computer work you do,” Elder said.

— Rest your eyes and look away from the computer for 20 seconds occasionally. “Try this quick time-out for your eyes every 20 minutes or so,” she said.

— Use a humidifier at home to boost eye moisture.

— Wear glasses that are specifically designed to function comfortably at the computer. “Special glasses and computer screen filters are available to help reduce glare and discomfort,” Elder said.

Pre-existing, uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness, astigmatism and age-related eye conditions may also contribute to computer vision syndrome.

March is Save Your Vision month sponsored by American Optometric Association.

University of Alabama at Birmingham
701 20th St. S, AB 1320
AL 35294-0113
United States

Scientists Find A New Slant On Vision, Australia

Australian scientists have made an important advance in understanding how the brain interprets the signals it receives from the eyes about how we view the orientation of the world we see about us.

Research by a team in The Vision Centre has found that while our brain has a natural tendency to view the world in terms of the vertical and horizontal, it has also developed an ability to override this to detect objects moving obliquely in the vision.

At its most basic, the skill might save us from a leaping lion or a speeding car or some other object that isn’t up/down or horizontal, says Professor Colin Clifford, of The Vision Centre and The University of Sydney.

“For a long time the prevailing view has been that our visual system responds to edges that are horizontal or vertical – and indeed there are many of these in the natural environment: trees, the horizon and so on,” he says. “Our latest research, however, indicates that the brain has a way of suppressing this dominant information flow enough to pick out objects that don’t conform.”

The discovery came as quite a surprise, he says. When the team put volunteers in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and studied how the brain ‘lit up’ when confronted with visual signals at different angles, they expected to get a much stronger response to lines that were up, down or sideways – in line with the prevailing scientific theory.

Instead, they found the response to oblique lines was even stronger, suggesting the brain was carrying out some subtle extra processing to highlight these.

“We concluded that this probably was because oblique objects are likely to be of considerable interest to the brain – perhaps representing food or danger or some other important signal – and that we need to pay attention.

“The environment moulds our vision and the sensitivity of our visual neurons is mostly directed at edges that are up, down or sideways – but in this case it is somehow compensating for this natural tendency, to tell us something we really need to know.”

The results throw new light on how the brain performs the phenomenally complex task of making sense out of the avalanche of orientation, colour and movement signals fed to it via the nerve cells in the eye.

Understanding how the brain performs the miracle of sight holds more than just scientific interest, Prof. Clifford says. “If we can understand how these systems work, we have a better chance of understanding how and why they are not working properly – in cases of eye or even brain disease.

“The tests we used in our experiment could, in other words, become diagnostic tools to see if someone’s vision or their brain is performing as it should.

“They could also help us understand conditions such as amblyopia, in which a person with a strong squint manages to suppress the information coming from one of their eyes.”

The research may also reveal whether people with a greater ability to sense oblique visual signals may be better at certain tasks – such as cricket, driving or other highly visual activities.

The article ‘Orientation Anisotropies in Human Visual Cortex’ by Damien J. Mannion, J. Scott McDonald, and Colin W. G. Clifford appears in the Journal of Neurophysiology 103, April 2010.

The Vision Centre is funded by the Australian Research Council as the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science.


The Vision Centre

New Test For Glaucoma Potentially Solves Many Problems Associated With Current Test Methods

A new method for detecting and managing the debilitating eye disease glaucoma developed by researchers at The Australian National University is set to revolutionise testing for the disease. The device, called the TrueField Analyser, potentially solves many of the problems associated with current test methods and provides much more information to health professionals in much less time.

Glaucoma and other blinding diseases affect about two per cent of all people over the age of 50 years, impacting around 60 million people worldwide. The new test, developed by Dr Andrew James and Ted Maddess, Head of the Centre for Visual Sciences at ANU, uses multifocal pupillographic perimetry to make diagnosis quicker and more accurate.

“To diagnose and manage blinding diseases such as glaucoma it is necessary to measure how people see across their complete field of vision, a process known as perimetry,” said Dr Maddess.

“Standard perimetry examinations take up to 8 minutes per eye and rely on patients making hundreds of difficult subjective judgments about whether or not they have seen test visual stimuli.

“The upshot is that it is very difficult to produce a consistent and dependable result from this type of testing. Because the test is so long and in-depth, about 10 per cent of patients fail to complete a proper perimetry test, even though it is critical to the management or diagnosis of their glaucoma,” he said.

The new method objectively measures the visual fields of both eyes concurrently, using only the responses of the pupils to 88 concurrently presented stimuli. The resulting tiny pupil contractions are monitored by a video camera system. The new test is about twice a fast as conventional methods are and at least as accurate and reproducible. It also provides much more information on brain and retinal function than conventional perimeters and so is of interest to a wider range of health professionals.

Drs Maddess and James will be presenting the results of a study carried out with ANU colleagues, Maria Kolic and Rohan Essex from the new ANU Ophthalmology department at The Canberra Hospital at the 29th annual Australian Neuroscience Society in Canberra on Friday.

The new test, the TrueField Perimeter, is a joint venture between the ANU/ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science and an Australian company, Seeing Machines Ltd. The study reported at the conference is about one of a series of large clinical experiments designed to fine tune the TrueField method in the search for the best method. The study found that commerciality viable results were achievable. Subsequent studies have refined the method further. The TrueField has regulatory approval and it is hoped it will be on the market in mid-2009.

TrueField Perimeter

Glaucoma Research Foundation 30th Anniversary Gala, USA

During National Glaucoma Awareness Month, Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) celebrates its 30th Anniversary on January 23, 2008, with a gala benefit at the Westin St. Francis Hotel Tower in San Francisco. The annual event, “Speeding the Cure. Spreading the Word.” showcases recent advances in GRF-funded research. The Gala includes presentation of the Catalyst Award, GRF’s most prestigious honor, to Cary Rayment, chairman, president and CEO of Alcon Laboratories in Fort Worth, Texas.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with a scientific overview of recent research advances presented by the four principal investigators of GRF’s Catalyst For a Cure consortium. Presenters will include David Calkins, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University; Philip Horner Ph.D., University of Washington; Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University; and Monica Vetter Ph.D., University of Utah. With the demonstrated brilliance of these young scientists’ discoveries, this segment is one of the annual event’s most popular activities. A reception follows at 6 p.m. and dinner commences at 7 p.m.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Glaucoma Research Foundation,” says GRF’s President and CEO Thomas M. Brunner, “Everyone is vulnerable to glaucoma, from babies to seniors. Only half of those affected are aware of their condition. The benefit gala is an important way for us to raise awareness and much needed funds to support our ongoing educational programs and innovative research to find a cure.”

The Gala national co-chairs are Mona and Ed Zander, chairman and CEO of Motorola. Charles Munnerlyn Ph.D., the father of laser refractive surgery, and his wife Judy are the event co-chairs. Event committee members include Board President Deirdre Porter and Bradford Hall, and Wallace and Thomas Brunner, president and CEO of GRF. The Anniversary Committee is chaired by GRF co-founders Dr. H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr. and Dr. John Hetherington, and their wives Ann and Susan, respectively. June Behrendt is chair of the Auction Committee.

Individual tickets are $300, with tables available at $25,000, $15,000, $10,000 and $6,000. For information, or to receive an invitation, please contact Craig Palmer, 415.986.3162.

About The Glaucoma Research Foundation

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States. Founded in 1978 in San Francisco, the Glaucoma Research Foundation is the oldest national foundation working to prevent vision loss from glaucoma by investing in innovative research, education and support with the ultimate goal of finding a cure.

Glaucoma Research Foundation

Genetics A Key Factor In Premature Infants’ Devastating Eye Disease

Genetics play a major role in predisposing infants to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease prevalent in premature infants that disrupts normal blood vessel development of the retina and can lead to blindness, researchers at Yale School of Medicine report in the November issue of Pediatrics.

“This is the first definitive study to show that genetic factors are a significant component of ROP, and to quantify the extent of that genetic contribution,” said lead author Vineet Bhandari, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine.

ROP is most prevalent and severe in extremely low birth weight newborns with an overall incidence estimated to be as high as 68 percent among those born at less than 1,251 grams (2.75 pounds), and 93 percent in those born less than 750 grams (1.6 pounds). Despite early detection and intervention, ROP may lead to retinal detachment and blindness. In an attempt to treat ROP, researchers have sought significant factors, such as too much oxygen, that contribute to the disease. The Yale team hypothesized that there was a strong genetic connection involved in developing ROP.

They looked at contributing factors and outcomes for ROP within 200 twin pairs born at 32 weeks gestation or less. Study participants were from Yale, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of Connecticut. These 200 twin pairs had a mean gestational age and birth weight of 29 weeks and 1,332 grams (2.9 pounds), respectively.

“Our analyses showed that gestational age and duration of supplemental oxygen were the significant independent contributing factors for ROP,” said Bhandari. “Once significant non-genetic co-factors for ROP were identified, we calculated the genetic susceptibility and determined that 70 percent of the contribution to ROP was the result of genetic factors alone.”

“The magnitude to which genetic factors contribute to this major cause of infant morbidity accentuates the need for a shift in the paradigm utilized to identify and treat this disease process,” Bhandari added. “It is possible that a dual therapy for ROP aimed at limiting potential environmental risk factors and identifying and targeting specific genetic factors may become the model for future intervention.”
Other authors on the study included Matthew J. Bizzarro, M.D., Laura R. Ment, M.D., of the Department of Pediatrics at Yale; Jeffrey R. Gruen, M.D., of the Departments of Pediatrics and Genetics; Heping Zhang and Rui Feng of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale; Naveed Hussain, M.D., of the University of Connecticut Health Center; and Baldvin Jonsson, M.D., of the Karolinska Institute.

Citation: Pediatrics, 118: 1858-1863 (November 2006)

Yale News Releases are available via the World Wide Web at

For further information please go to:
Yale University

Universal Eye Problem Leads To Better Vision

‘Crowding’, the phenomenon when people are less able to differentiate letters if they are surrounded by other letters, actually leads to better vision. This is the conclusion of Dr Frans Cornelissen, who together with Dr Ronald van den Berg and Prof. Jos Roerdink is the first to succeed in explaining crowding with a mathematical model. ‘At this moment in time our model is mainly interesting in a fundamental sense’, says Cornelissen. ‘In the long term, however, it may acquire practical applications, for example when designing learning material for children with dyslexia.’

In order to illustrate the phenomenon of crowding, Cornelissen makes the letter E, a cross and the digit 8 appear on his monitor. People who look at the cross in the middle are able to recognize the E and the 8 without any problems, even if they are standing off to the side. However, once more letters and digits appear on the screen, the E and the 8 are suddenly unrecognizable. Everything runs into each other. ‘And this despite the fact that nothing has changed in the E and the 8’, says Cornelissen. ‘The reason you can no longer recognize the E and the 8 is crowding. That limitation is locked into our brains and appears in everything we look at. You could call it a universal eye problem, because objects are nearly always surrounded by other objects.’

Image strengthening trick

Although crowding has always been regarded as a sight limitation, the research by Cornelissen and his colleagues has revealed that it actually helps us. ‘In fact, people see better as a result of crowding’, states Cornelissen. ‘Our eyes are continually being bombarded with information, and our brains have to decide what is important. Simulations conducted with our model show that crowding appears to help make the important information much clearer. If you look at pictures without crowding, the illustration always stays a bit fuzzy. However, if you then apply crowding, the edges of letters and objects in an image become much sharper. Crowding is thus an image strengthening trick by the brain to differentiate between important and useless information. We have to do more research to determine exactly how this strengthening works. So far, the model has only been tested on a limited number of pictures.’


Cornelissen emphasizes that the model is currently only interesting in a fundamental sense for a better understanding of our brain functions, but at the same time he sees a number of potential practical applications, for example in the field of dyslexia. ‘Previous research has shown that people with dyslexia have more problems with crowding. Our model can simulate how someone with normal sight identifies a text and how that differs from someone with more problems with crowding. It will probably turn out that someone with extra crowding needs the letters to be further apart before they become clear. Our model can thus calculate the optimum way to present things to someone with dyslexia. This will probably not completely remove the dyslexia, because there’s more to the problem than just crowding. However, it could certainly reduce the consequences.’

Source: University of Groningen

Interactive Science Publishing Gives Researchers A Closer Look At A New Way To Spot Leaky Blood Vessels In The Eyes

A group of scientists in California is trying to develop a cheaper, less invasive way to spot the early stages of retinal damage from diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in American adults, before it leads to blindness. As described in the special Interactive Science Publishing (ISP) issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal, the scientists are using beams of light to measure blood flow in the back of the eye.

“The more severe the retinopathy, the lower the blood flow to the retina,” says David Huang of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. This observation may lead to better ways to diagnose the condition early.

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to blood vessels in the eye’s retina. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.5 million people over the age of 40 suffered from this condition in 2005, and this number is expected to triple by 2050 as the number of people with diabetes continues to increase. But there’s hope; vision loss is preventable if retinal damage is detected early enough.

Affecting everyone who has type 1 diabetes and most people with type 2, diabetic retinopathy progresses in two stages. It begins when the small vessels that carry blood to and from the eye swell and leak, which can lead to slow vision loss as the health of the retina degenerates. In 20 percent of patients, the disease then progresses to advanced “proliferative” retinopathy. The oxygen-starved retina calls out to the circulatory system for help, which responds by forming new, abnormal blood vessels. These fragile vessels have thin walls that tend to scar and hemorrhage, causing sudden vision loss.

Huang and colleagues have adapted a spectroscopic technology called optical coherence tomography (OCT) — normally used take cross-sectional pictures of the retina — to directly detect the amount of blood flowing through retinal blood vessels. A diode on the OCT instrument beams infrared light into the blood vessel of interest. The frequency of light that bounces back is shifted slightly by the fast-moving blood, a Doppler effect similar to the pitch shift in the sound of a train as it rushes by.

Using this technique, the team estimated the total amount of blood flow in the retinal veins of two people with diabetes, to within 10 percent. They detected less blood flowing in the person who had advanced proliferative retinopathy. Further unpublished results in six more patients support this finding, but the next step, according to Huang, will be a larger clinical trial to verify this observation with statistical significance.

The most common method currently used by ophthalmologists to detect retinopathy is a fluorescein angiography, an injection of dye into retinal veins used to spot leaks. This moderately invasive technique can cause nausea and vomiting and, in rare cases, severe allergic reactions.

OCT may provide a more quantitative, less invasive way to diagnose the condition, says Huang. It may also cut costs by circumventing the expensive equipment required for flourescein angiography. “It just requires special scanning software that could easily be put on the OCT machines that most retinal specialists have,” he says. He hopes that this combination of factors will give ophthalmologists an easy way to check for problems early and often.

Detecting leaky blood vessels early helps patients choose between different treatment options. “People with poor blood flow don’t respond well to some of the laser treatments used for retinopathy, and they are at a higher risk for proliferative retinopathy,” says Huang.

Huang’s research takes advantage of ISP, an initiative undertaken by OSA in partnership with the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, and with the support of the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research. This initiative allows scientists to expand upon traditional research results by providing software for interactively viewing underlying source data and to objectively compare the performance of different technologies. This data may be related to medical images, such as those taken with X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds, or it may be created in research involving oil and gas exploration, climatology, pollution monitoring and many other fields. Specifically in this instance, researchers are able to look at the actual OCT scans from the study patients as they read the paper. The software was developed in conjunction with Kitware, Inc. For more information on ISP, visit opticsinfobase/isp.cfm.

Paper: “Retinal blood flow detection in diabetic patients by Doppler Fourier domain optical coherence tomography,” Yimin Wang et al., Optics Express, Vol. 17, Issue 5, Mar. 2, 2009.

About OSA

Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit opticsinfobase/isp.cfm.

About Kitware

Kitware, Inc. (kitware) is a leader in the creation and support of open-source software and state of art technology across five business areas: visualization, computer vision, medical imaging, data publishing and quality software process. By employing open source business and development models the company fosters extended, collaborative communities and provides flexible, low-cost technical solutions to medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, government researchers, the oil & gas industry, computer aided design & manufacturing, aerospace, engineering, and educational institutions worldwide.

Founded in 1998, Kitware has grown to include customers in over 43 countries and in 41 of the 50 US states. Kitware’s team is widely recognized for their major contributions to a variety of open source software systems including the cross-platform build system CMake, the Visualization Toolkit (VTK), the Insight Segmentation and Registration Toolkit (ITK), and the Parallel Visualization System (ParaView).

Source: Colleen Morrison

Optical Society of America

Face Facts: People Don’t Stand Out In Crowds

Why is it difficult to pick out even a familiar face in a crowd? We all experience this, but the phenomenon has been poorly understood until now. The results of a recent study may have implications for individuals with face-recognition disorders and visual-attention related ailments and eventually could help scientists develop an artificial visual system that approaches the sophistication of human visual perception.

The study is part of the recently completed Journal of Vision (journalofvision) special issue titled “Crowding: Including illusory conjunctions, surround suppression, and attention” (journalofvision/7/2). “Crowding” is a failure to recognize an individual object in a cluttered environment. It may be due to one of the shortcuts our brains use to help us make sense of the vast amount of visual information we take in every second.

This special issue contains 25 articles devoted exclusively to crowding and related topics. Other noteworthy studies include “Effect of letter spacing on visual span and reading speed” which links reading speed to the number of letters we can recognize without moving our eyes. The impact of contrast and character size on reading speed is examined in “The case for the visual span as a sensory bottleneck in reading.”

The authors conducted five experiments to measure participants’ recognition of a familiar face or house that was located in a crowded display of other faces or houses. They found that face recognition is more difficult when target faces are surrounded by upright faces (as seen in crowds). This effect was not present for images of houses, or when upside-down faces were used as targets. The results indicate that searching for a face in a crowd is difficult in part because images of upright faces interfere with each other.

This kind of crowding is well documented in simple features, such as slanted lines or edges. But faces are a complex stimulus. Many researchers believe the importance of faces in our lives lend them special status in the brain: they are processed not as a collection of these lines and edges, as many objects are, but holistically, as a single image. The authors in this study were the first to show that crowding also occurs for these high-level stimuli.

“Crowding may reveal one of the fundamental mechanisms the visual system uses to consolidate or filter a great deal of information into a very few meaningful chunks,” explained Dr. Whitney. “If vision scientists and engineers are to develop an efficient and realistic artificial visual system, they will almost certainly benefit from using the human visual system as a model. An understanding of the visual system’s heuristics, shortcuts and limitations such as crowding will likely prove essential in designing effective artificial vision.”

The Journal of Vision is an online-only, peer-reviewed publication of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Access to articles is free and open to anyone.

ARVO is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include more than 12,500 eye and vision researchers from over 70 countries. The Association encourages and assists research, training, publication and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. For more information, visit arvo.

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
12300 Twinbrook Pkwy, Ste 250
Rockville, MD 20852
United States

A TAU Researcher Illuminates The Unseen World Of “Skin Vision” In Humans

Feeling blue? According to Prof. Leonid Yaroslavsky from Tel Aviv University, the saying may be more than just a metaphor.

Prof. Yaroslavsky believes that humans may have an ability to “see” colors and shapes with their skin. His optic-less imaging model is presented in a chapter of a new book, Advances in Information Optics and Photonics, and could lead to a new form of optical imaging technology that beats the limitations of today’s lens-based imaging devices. His model may also explain how this controversial primordial instinct, which is observable in some plants and animals, might have evolved over millions of years.

Extra-Ocular Sight for the Blind

“Some people have claimed that they possess the ability to see with their skin,” says Prof. Yaroslavsky. Though biologists usually dismiss the possibility, there is probably a reasonable scientific explanation for “skin vision.” Once understood, he believes, skin vision could lead to new therapies for helping the blind regain sight and even read.

Skin vision is not uncommon in nature. Plants orient themselves to light, and some animals — such as pit vipers, who use infrared vision, and reptiles, who possess skin sensors — can “see” without the use of eyes. Skin vision in humans is likely a natural atavistic ability involving light-sensitive cells in our skin connected to neuro-machinery in the body and in the brain, explains Prof. Yaroslavsky.

An Interdisciplinary Motivation

An engineer and scientist, Prof. Yaroslavsky is motivated by science and the design of new smart imaging devices, in which optics are replaced by computers. He is currently developing imaging simulation theories using computer software, theories which may lead to future devices with practical applications. Such devices, he says, would have distinct advantages over conventional optics-based imaging. Applications could include special sensors for detecting radiation at sea and in airports to detect terrorist threats, new night-vision devices, or near-weightless mechanisms to steer spaceships to stars beyond our own galaxy.

Traditional imaging lenses only work within a limited range of electromagnetic radiation. They are still very costly, limited by weight and field of view. Requiring no lenses, optics-less imaging devices could be adapted to any kind of radiation and any wavelength, says Prof. Yaroslavsky. They could essentially work with a “bionic” 360-degree field of view and their imaging capability determined by computer power rather than the laws of light diffraction.

Before real-world applications can be developed, however, Prof. Yaroslavsky hopes to convince biologists to take a leap of faith and delve deeper into the mechanisms of optics-less vision. Their input could propel imaging research to the next level, he believes.

Source: George Hunka

American Friends of Tel Aviv University