Mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to be a major contributor to the pathogenesis of numerous retinal diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and glaucoma. It is thought to begin well before any anatomical changes can be detected with current clinical methods, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) or funduscopic examination. Once disease is detectable with these modalities, a significant percentage of retinal cells have undergone irreversible cell death. Thus, earlier detection of retinal disease is essential in order to intervene early and help prevent these irreversible changes. Early retinal mitochondrial dysfunction can now be identified using a rapid, non-invasive retinal imaging method developed by OcuSciences, Inc. that measures retinal flavoprotein fluorescence (FPF).
In humans, FPF has been shown to detect increased mitochondrial stress in several retinal diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, AMD, pseudotumor cerebri, and central serous retinopathy. Moreover, FPF can be used to detect significant heterogeneity within the retina, as in AMD eyes with geographic atrophy. As mitochondrial flavoproteins are key mediators for cellular energy production, FPF is being developed to provide a non-invasive approach to rapidly characterize normal and pathological retinal tissues in vivo and enable the monitoring of the relative health of retinal mitochondria.
In addition to ocular disorders, mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a large number of chronic systemic diseases: