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New Imaging Technique May Detect Early Eye Diseases

Flavoprotein autofluorescence may be superior to conventional automated visual field testing

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Flavoprotein autofluorescence -- a new imaging technique previously studied in animals -- shows promise in the early detection of metabolic dysfunction in retinal and optic nerve diseases affecting humans, according to a small study published in the February issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Victor M. Elner, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging to study six female patients who were newly diagnosed with pseudo-tumor cerebri, had a visual acuity of 20/30 OU or better, and subtle or no defects on Humphrey automated visual field testing. They also studied six healthy, age-matched controls.

In the patients, the researchers found that each flavoprotein autofluorescence value was higher in the more affected eye, which allowed for the identification of that eye. Compared to controls, the researchers also found that flavoprotein autofluorescence values were an average 60 percent higher in the patients' more affected eyes.

"This approach distinguished disease severity between eyes with a visual acuity of 20/20 OU and eyes that conventional automated visual field testing could not," the authors write. "Flavoprotein autofluorescence characteristics indicating dysfunction are as follows: (1) high average intensity from impaired metabolic activity, (2) broad average curve width from disease affecting individual cells to different degrees, and (3) average intensity and average curve width asymmetry between eyes of the same individual. Our results suggest that flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging may become an important diagnostic tool for ocular disease."

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