My research is focused on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), particularly during early and intermediate stages. This disease is a leading cause of blindness in the UK/EU and in the developed World. The project’s main aim is to further understand the pathogenesis of this disease by looking at the outer retina, and improving our understanding of the relationships between photopigment kinetics, choroidal vasculature and subretinal drusenoid deposits. I will be using imaging retinal densitometry (IRD), a unique device developed at Cardiff University with dark adaptometry and Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA). I started my project in October 2020 with Dr Ashley Wood, Professor Tom Margrain and Consultant Ophthalmologist Rhianon Reynolds.
One of the earliest signs of AMD is delayed regeneration of photopigments after exposure to light, known as dark adaptation, hence the importance of examining changes in visual pigment regeneration, using imaging retinal densitometry (IRD) which provides objective topographical measurement of this process. A focus of this research is the choroid’s role in AMD, with the outer retina exercising such a high demanding metabolic activity, the blood supply is a prime player in the visual cycle and AMD pathology. This research will compare pigment regeneration rates with choroidal vasculature identified using OCTA, in participants with AMD. Preliminary data suggests a relationship between the two parameters. A second aim will be to relate the densitometry data with the presence and location of subretinal drusenoid deposits, a feature separately associated with choroidal vascular changes and dark adaptation deficits in AMD, with the intention of improving our understanding of the pathogenic process in early disease. This project will also compare the densitometry data to more conventional measures such as dark adaptation.