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Research on the Effects of Lasers on the Eye

Research on the Effects of Lasers on the Eye

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Micrograph of the human eye

Rostock University Medical Center and Leibniz University Hannover awarded 850,000 euros of funding from the DFG

Laser beams are frequently used in ophthalmology to correct visual defects, treat glaucomas, or perform surgery on the retina of the eye. In view of this, researchers at Rostock University Medical Center and Leibniz University Hannover investigate interactions between lasers and the eye tissue. In several projects across locations, researchers develop new concepts for diagnosing and treating corneal diseases or short-sightedness with the help of optical lasers. Beginning in autumn, one of these projects will receive 850,000 euros of funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) over a period of three years. The amount will be equally divided between the research groups in Rostock and Hannover.

The researchers in Rostock use ultrashort laser pulses in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the cornea, such as a keratoconus. This disease leads to a deformation of the cornea due to abnormal biomechanics and is not curable at present. "We are hoping to diagnose biomechanical changes at an early stage. By developing new approaches for treatments we could minimise pain during the medical procedure and reduce complications as well as side-effects", explains Professor Oliver Stachs, researcher at the ophthalmic clinic of Rostock University Medical Center. By means of biophotonics (research and application of the interaction between light and tissue) the projects aims at improving diagnostics as well as systematically manipulating cells and tissue through laser beams.

The therapeutic part of the project is developed by the research group in Hannover, which is led by Professor Heisterkamp from the Institute of Quantum Optics. Professor Heisterkamp already employs similar methods in the excellence clusters "REBIRTH" (cardiac research) and "Hearing4all" (hearing research). Both researchers and their work groups have been working together for several years in the unique DFG collaborative research centre "Transregio 37: Micro- and Nanosystems in Medicine - Reconstruction of Biological Functions". Members of the work group include the physicists Professor Heinrich Stolz and Dr Karsten Sperlich from the Institute of Physics at the University of Rostock and Professor Rudolf F. Guthoff, former manager of the ophthalmic clinic. The group keeps in close contact with researchers from the Lower Saxony Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development (NIFE), the joint research centre of Hannover Medical School, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, and Leibniz University Hannover.

Note to editors:

For further information, please contact Professor Alexander Heisterkamp, Institute of Quantum Optics at Leibniz University Hannover (Tel. +49 511 762 2211, Email heisterkamp@iqo.uni-hannover.de).