Let’s hear it for the boys! Wrocław scientists invent ‘bespoke’ revolutionary eye laser
Scientists from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology, have designed and constructed a revolutionary laser that makes it possible to observe processes taking place in the retina of the human eye.
The new laser - the so-called ‘optical frequency comb’ - which allows for safe and non-invasive assessment of an eye’s condition, opens up new therapeutic possibilities for retinal degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.
It can also be useful for testing new drugs.
Team leader Grzegorz Soboń told TFN: “The molecules supporting the visual pigments that allow us to see our surroundings had remained essentially invisible for scientists.
“This is the so-called a femtosecond laser that can be used in the imaging of biological tissues.
“It will be used, among others in vivo imaging of the retina of the eye, thus enabling the creation of tools for advanced and early diagnosis of eye diseases.”
The retina, the part of the eye that receives visual stimuli, contains photosensitive cells, cones and rods. The cones enable us to see and distinguish colours in bright light, while the rods are sensitive to single pulses of visible light at dusk or night.
Professor Maciej Wojtkowski from the International Eye Research Center in Warsaw said: “To put it simply, we can say that the human eye is a biochemical factory whose activity depends on biochemical transformations of a single molecule, retinal. This molecule is indispensable for the function of the visual pigments, namely rhodopsin in rods.”
Soboń contimued: “The laser was created completely from scratch. It is ‘made to measure’ and safe for humans.
“The entire device was developed at Wrocław University of Science and Technology: both its optical part and electronic power and control modules as well as the housing.”
The project was created in cooperation with scientists from Wrocław and a team led by professor Wojtkowski and professor Krzysztof Palczewski from the University of California Irvine in the USA.
It was supported by the Foundation for Polish Science within the First TEAM programme co-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund.