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OCT, adaptive optics net €1M vision science award

LISBON, Portugal – Pioneers in optical coherence tomography and adaptive optics for retina visualization received the 2012 António Champalimaud Vision Award this fall in recognition of the techniques’ applications to in vivo study, diagnosis and monitoring.

“These two techniques for visualizing the living retina have already provided fundamentally important details about the structure of the eyes of living patients, in tissue cross section at macroscale by OCT and cell organization en fas at microscale by AO,” the Champalimaud Foundation said in a statement.

“Previously unknown details of the malleability of the human retina have emerged through application of OCT and AO in health and disease. These methods are dramatically changing ophthalmic practice and our understanding and management of ocular aging and disease.

“The imaging properties of these two techniques – alone and, potentially, together – hold enormous promise for three-dimensional in vivo cell-scale imaging that will further advance research discovery and clinical care.”

David Williams received half of a €1 million vision science award for his work with adaptive optics. Courtesy of University of Rochester.

The OCT founders who were honored were James Fujimoto and Eric Swanson of MIT, and David Huang of Oregon Health & Science University; also honored for clinical ocular application of OCT were Carmen Puliafito of the University of Southern California and Joel Schuman of the University of Pittsburgh. The five shared half of the €1 million prize, (about $630,000).

The other half went to David Williams of the University of Rochester for his use of adaptive optics techniques for sharp focus on retinal cells, enabling in vivo counting of individual cone photoreceptors.

Williams said he was delighted to share the award. “Together, these two technologies make it possible for us to image the retina with unsurpassed resolution and move us further down the path to understanding of retinal disease,” he added.

The Champalimaud Award is given in even-numbered years and offers the monetary prize for contributions to vision research, the largest award in the fields of vision science and ophthalmology.

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