Combine optical, mri and histopathological strengths to prevent unnecessary blindness

Principal Investigators: dr. Jan Willem Beenakker (LUMC),

Funding: NWO-VIDI 2021


Intraocular malignancies are life-threatening ocular conditions. Unfortunately, for the majority of these patients outcomes such as visual function and survival have not improved over the last decades, e.g. 50% of patients die within 10 years and one third of the eyes become blind within 5 years after proton therapy. This lack of progress is to a large part due to the disconnect between ophthalmic imaging and treatment planning. As ophthalmic images, e.g. fundus photographs, are geometrically deformed by the eye’s optics, they cannot be accurately linked to 3D data used in treatment planning, e.g. MR-images. This lack of connection and feedback between diagnosis/follow-up and treatment planning prevents the development of treatment strategies to maintain visual function. Moreover, genetic and histopathologic science currently distinguishes distinct tumor subtypes. However, as the required tumor specimen are generally not available before treatment starts, this biological differentiation is not included in the treatment decision making, e.g. tumor-specific dosing or margins.

In this project, I will develop innovative approaches to bridge the gaps between ophthalmic imaging, treatment planning and histopathology. I will combine the strengths of ophthalmic and MR-imaging, by developing ray-tracing methods to accurately map the pixels of fundus photographs to the 3D ocular geometry. To this end, I will combine different imaging modalities to build patient-specific optical eye-models, that will allow me to correct for the eye’s aberrations. Additionally, I will establish MR-imaging biomarkers to enable in vivo staging of ocular masses, e.g. using the vascular differences between tumor phenotypes. Together with clinical partners, I will validate and evaluate the clinical potential of these technologies. In parallel, I will work with industrial partners, including RaySearch Laboratories, on integrating them into clinical products. Through these innovations, I will create an effective healthcare innovation cycle, leading to continuous improvement of ocular oncological care.