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Seeing through cataracts with advanced photonics (SEECAT)
Start date: Feb 1, 2014, End date: Jan 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Cataract is the opacification of the crystalline lens of the human eye. It is usually related with age and is one of the leading causes of blindness. The increase in light scatter in the lens reduces the contrast in the retinal images severely degrading vision. The current solution is to perform surgery to remove the natural lens that is substituted by an artificial intraocular lens. This is a successful procedure restoring good quality of vision in most patients. However, in many situations it would be incredible advantageous to actually “see” through a cataractous eye. The optics of the eye is affected by two factors: aberrations and scatter. In the last decade, correcting optical aberrations in the eye was accomplished by using adaptive optics techniques. This permitted to obtain high resolution images of the retina and also to improve vision. However, the possibility of correcting scatter in the eye was never considered before. We propose here the use of spatial and temporal advanced photonics techniques for imaging through the turbid media of the cataractous lens. We envision two direct applications of this technology: a dedicated fundus camera to register images of the retina in patients affected by cataracts and a novel type of opto-electronics spectacles restoring some vision in cataract patients. The fundus camera would offer clinicians the unique opportunity to determine if there is any retinal pathology underneath the cataractous eye. The scatter-correcting goggles would be useful in those cases where surgery were not possible for any reason or as a temporarily relieve until the surgery is performed. The same type of technology could be applied in the case of normal eyes with lower levels of scatter but desiring to achieve a better than normal vision for some specific tasks. This proposal presents a completely new and disruptive idea, which if successful would render immediate and significant benefits to patients worldwide."
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