Rochester researchers demonstrate a way to track the interactions of microscopic immune cells in a living eye without dyes or damage, a first for imaging science. Combining infrared videography (adaptive optics) and artificial intelligence, the new technique could be a ‘game-changer’ for some clinical diagnoses as well as for fields like pharmaceuticals.
The researchers integrated into adaptive optics a new phase contrast technique – much like differential interference contrast microscopy–which can capture images of translucent objects such as immune cells. They used time-lapse videography to capture images of immune cell activity in the retina over periods ranging from milliseconds to months. They adjusted the playback speed that allows the slow movements of those cells can be more easily tracked.
The research team used artificial intelligence (AI) computer code deployed by the lab to identify the different kinds of immune cells captured in the images. They used ultra-high-speed imaging of individual red blood cells to simultaneously track blood flow and how it changes in response to the inflammation. This technology could be a game-changer for ophthalmology and for our understanding of retinal diseases that lead to blindness.