We are delighted to share a new STARSTEM publication – Noninvasive detection of nanoscale structural changes in cornea associated with cross‐linking treatment. Team members from the TOMI, NUI Galway recently published this article in the Journal of Biophotonics, the first international journal dedicated to publishing original articles and reviews from the exciting field of biophotonics.

We asked Yi Zhou, lead author of Noninvasive detection of nanoscale structural changes in cornea associated with cross‐linking treatment to discuss their work.

What were you aiming to find out in this publication?

The proposed method aims to detect nanoscale changes in cornea with the potential to assist diagnostic assessment during cross-linking treatment.

Why does this research need to be done?

Corneal ectasia can severely impair vision, especially in the progressive form caused by the inherent structural weakness of the cornea. Keratoconus, the most common form of corneal ectasia affecting nearly 1 in 375 individuals globally, is an ocular disorder. Corneal cross-linking (CXL), was proved to be an effective way in halting the progression of keratoconus, meaning patients can avoid a corneal transplant.

Describe the methods chosen.

In this study, we have presented the application of over-sampling nano-sensitive optical coherence tomography (nsOCT), which is proposed to retain the high spatial frequency information in the interference spectra, to probe the structural alterations inside ex vivo bovine cornea during CXL treatment with nanoscale sensitivity. The results suggest that the over-sampling nsOCT can be used to detect nano-sized structural changes valuable for corneal treatment methods.

What is the intended impact and how could this benefit the clinic?

Due to its fast, non-invasive detecting method and nanoscale sensitivity, this unique technology is potential to be an indicator in diagnostic assessment associated with CXL treatment, and possibly to be a real-time monitoring tool in clinics as a fast way to receive feedback from patient’s tissue.

What are the next steps?

Future work will aim to implement this method for in vivo corneal detections associated with CXL treatment, including monitoring the nanoscale structural variations at different treating steps and also the postoperative assessment.


You can find out more about the publication and download the full text over on our publications page.