Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Karl G. Helmer, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Michael A. Gennert, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ross D. Shonat, Advisor




Retinal hypoxia is associated with many retinal diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy. Current retinal research suggests that retinal hypoxia appears prior to the onset of diabetic retinopathy. The preliminary association of retinal hypoxia to the early stages of diabetic retinopathy is stimulating the development of new technologies to measure the oxygen content of retinal tissue. Frequency domain phosphoresence lifetime imaging (PLI) is a promising technology that enables the mapping of the oxygen content across the entire retina in the form of two-dimensional images. The two-dimensional images generated from the PLI process are a spatial mapping of the retinal tissue's oxygen tension. Currently, the phosphorescent based oxygen tension PLI measurements contain contaminating auto-fluorescent signals in addition to the desired phosphorescent signals. These auto-fluorescent signals artificially inflate the oxygen tension readings due to the nature of fluorescent signals in phosphorescent imaging. Additionally, the maps generated through PLI appear to contain oxygen tension information from both the retinal vasculature and the choroidal vasculature. The choroidal vasculature is situated directly behind the retina and can have a different oxygen tension value than the retinal vasculature. This research enhanced the PLI system by mathematically eliminating the contaminating auto-fluorescent signals and investigated the methods aimed at separating the PO2s of the retinal and choroidal vasculature beds. In addition, the application of the enhanced PLI technology to the investigation of retinal oxygen changes in a rat model of type I diabetes yielded results that suggest a hyperoxic to hypoxic trend prior to the onset of diabetic retinopathy.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Diabetes, Imaging, Phosphorescence, Retina, Diabetic retinopathy, Retinal degeneration, Oxygen in the body, Measurement, Phosphorescence, Imaging systems in medicine, Phosphorescence lifetime imaging