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Research Lecture Series Vascular, Neural, and Refractive Development in Retinopathy of Prematurity

Please join Dr. James Akula, New England College of Optometry, as he presents, “Vascular, Neural, and Refractive Development in Retinopathy of Prematurity.” The lecture will take place on February 13, 2018 as part of the Research Lecture Series in Lecture Hall 2. All are welcome to attend. One hour of Mass CE will be awarded. You are invited to join us for a light reception in Conference Room 1 following the lecture.

Abstract: Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a neurovascular disease that affects prematurely born infants.  The Infant Vision Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital has documented many highly-prevalent, clinically-significant sequelae that persist long after the preterm-ages at which the disease is active; these sequalae are common even in eyes in which the ROP was too mild to qualify for any available treatment (the vast majority).  Short axial length, high myopia, anisometropia and, most critically, persistent retinal dysfunction, are all features of ROP, but the mechanisms that cause and link them remain poorly understood.  In this lecture, evidence from both human ROP subjects and rat ROP models will be presented that suggests abnormalities in the structure and function of the neural retina, its vascular supply, and in refractive development, are biologically related comorbidities.  The case will be made that retinal neurons, especially rod photoreceptors, instigate the chain of events that results in all these sequalae.  Special focus will be on innovative, noninvasive procedures used to study the structure and function of the retina, including advanced imaging, electroretinographic, and psychophysical methods that facilitate translation from bench to bedside (and back again).  The results have implications for vision and for control of eye growth and refractive development, and they suggest many future research directions. They furthermore lead to a proposal for noninvasive management of ROP, using light, which may apply to individuals with disease too mild to qualify for any currently contemplated intervention as well as supplement the invasive, currently available therapies for management of severe ROP.