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My interest in ophthalmology started at a very early age, motivated by my own amblyopia and hyperopia. These led me to study physics and optics, with my first research experience at undergraduate and master’s level at the Applied Optics Group of the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. I then pursued my PhD work and a first postdoctoral position at the Photonics Group in Imperial College London, where I worked on instrumentation to study the topography of the tear film and adaptive optics (AO). The desire to advance AO for retinal imaging took me to the University of Rochester, where the interaction with patients affected by blinding conditions provided me with the determination to go beyond the proof-of-principle experiments after which many technologies are abandoned. Therefore, since starting my research group at the University of Rochester first, and at the Medical College of Wisconsin later and now at Stanford we have focused on the development and translation of AO and microscopy techniques into tools that can be used to address real clinical problems.
The optics of the eye can be thought of as an imperfect microscope objective through which the retina can be observed. Our lab uses adaptive optics, a technology originally developed to observe distant stars and galaxies to improve this microscope objective so that individual retinal and blood cells can be visualized. Moreover, we use and invent new microscopy imaging methods to reveal cellular and sub-cellular structures in the eye through a multidisciplinary approach that integrates optics, computer science, vision science, electrical engineering and other engineering disciplines.