Mitochondrial stress related to apoptotic cell death underlies pathology in a number of ocular diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. During apoptosis, mitochondria exhibit impaired electron transport in the respiratory chain, causing increased oxidation of flavoproteins. The balance between oxidized and reduced mitochondrial flavoproteins has been shown to reflect the overall health of the cell. Flavoprotein fluorescence (FPF) enables monitoring of the relative health of mitochondria through detection of oxidized flavoproteins. Oxidized flavoproteins emit green fluorescence when excited by blue light. FPF analysis quantifies the magnitude of this green fluorescence, which is a correlate of mitochondrial dysfunction.
The OcuMet Beacon™ is a novel medical device that is being developed to noninvasively assess retinal mitochondrial dysfunction. The OcuMet Beacon™ takes an infrared fundus image that highlights the acquisition area for the retinal metabolic image (A), takes a retinal flavoprotein fluorescence (FPF) metabolic image (B), and provides quantitative analysis, including retinal FPF histogram analysis of pixel intensities (C) (shown below). The images are taken from a healthy, control eye.