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Basic Science Ophthalmology Research

The Vision Science Research Laboratory


The eye is one of the most specialized organs in the human body, allowing humans the ability to interact with their external environment in a highly complex manner. It accomplishes this by processing externally derived cues in the form of light, transforming these stimuli into electrical signals which then travel along visual pathways throughout the brain for interpretation. The intricate regulation of local ocular microenvironments is fundamental to ensuring a clear visual axis—unimpeded light traveling from the tear-corneal interface all the way to the retina.

Dr Jacob Rullo


The Intraocular Environment

The eye possesses well-regulated intraocular environments, separate from the systemic circulation of the rest of the body. It is filled with low-protein, plasma-like fluid known as the aqueous and vitreous humours. These substances act as specialized microenvironments working to ensure clear vision can be maintained. The constituents of these “humours” are different from plasma, and are regulated by well-controlled blood-ocular barriers. Under conditions of disease, these microenvironments undergo states of disequilibrium, resulting in local changes in small biomolecules within, but undetectable through classical systemic investigation.

The detection and characterization of these molecules as potential biomarkers of, and therapeutic targets for disease would have monumental potential in understanding disease pathophysiology, and in the development of novel ophthalmic drugs. We currently have identified four distinct biomolecule targets which preferentially accumulate in human eyes and exhibit unique profiles under states of disease. Understanding how these targets interplay in the pathophysiology of neuro-retinal degenerative disease, their potential to act as biomarkers, and ability to be manipulated as a therapeutic target are one area of focus in the Rullo Laboratory.