Politecnico di Milano: An Innovative Technique To Investigate The Effects Of Glaucoma In The Brain

A non-invasive technique has been developed in the Department of Physics at the Politecnico di Milano to monitor the haemodynamic response in the brain to visual stimulation in patients affected by glaucoma. The results of the work were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The clinical tests, authorized by the Ministry of Health and the Sacco Hospital Ethics Committee, was conducted on 98 patients (some with glaucoma, some healthy). The research group from the Politecnico di Milano worked in collaboration with the Sacco Hospital, IFN-CNR, and the Università degli Studi di Milano. The technique, called TD-fNIRS, consists of time-domain functional spectroscopy in the near infrared, which uses brief laser pulses to monitor haemodynamics in the brain with a quick measurement in the clinic.

For the first time with this technique, we have observed that in patients with glaucoma, the cerebral response when viewing something is more moderate with respect to the control group, confirming involvement of the visual cortex in patients with glaucoma, not only from the anatomical point of view (brain structure), but also from the functional point of view (how the brain responds to visual stimuli)

explains Rebecca Re, one of the researchers from the Politecnico di Milano.

This discovery is an important step forward towards understanding the origin (neurological or ophthalmological) of the development of glaucoma. In the future, the TD-fNIRS technique may be applied directly in the clinic.

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