Nonresonant Raman spectroscopy of isolated human retina samples complying with laser safety regulations for in vivo measurements
in: Neurophotonics (2019)
Retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, are leading causes of vision impairment, increasing in incidence worldwide due to an aging society. If diagnosed early, most cases could be prevented. In contrast to standard ophthalmic diagnostic tools, Raman spectroscopy can provide a comprehensive overview of the biochemical composition of the retina in a label-free manner. A proof of concept study of the applicability of nonresonant Raman spectroscopy for retinal investigations is presented. Raman imaging provides valuable insights into the molecular composition of an isolated ex vivo human retina sample by probing the entire molecular fingerprint, i.e., the lipid, protein, carotenoid, and nucleic acid content. The results are compared to morphological information obtained by optical coherence tomography of the sample. The challenges of in vivo Raman studies due to laser safety limitations and predefined optical parameters given by the eye itself are explored. An in-house built setup simulating the optical pathway in the human eye was developed and used to demonstrate that even under laser safety regulations and the above-mentioned optical restrictions, Raman spectra of isolated ex vivo human retinas can be recorded. The results strongly support that in vivo studies using nonresonant Raman spectroscopy are feasible and that these studies provide comprehensive molecular information of the human retina.