Porter's work concentrates on examining the lamina cribrosa, which is the sponge-like, porous part of the eye in the optic nerve head that provides structural and functional support to the retinal axons as they exit the eye and move to the brain. Signals detected by the retina are transmitted through retinal axons that exit the eye through the optic nerve head and tend to travel in bundles, weaving their way through the pores in the lamina cribrosa and exiting the eye to go to the brain.
Porter says a growing body of research shows that the lamina cribrosa changes in glaucoma, a disease in which pressure may increase in the eye, leading to a bowing and stretching backward of this structure in early stages of the disease. This bowing, he says, could cause changes in the relative geometry of the lamina's pores, potentially damaging the axons coursing through them and, thus, the axons' ability to transport signals to the brain. This damage to the axons results in the loss of ganglion cells in the retina and losses in vision. Porter and his colleagues are interested to see if changes in the lamina cribrosa pores occur before changes in axon loss and vision loss in glaucoma.
"While my lab has expertise in high-resolution imaging of the eye and the lamina, we provide only one piece of the puzzle in glaucoma," Porter said. "It is very important that we relate the changes we see in our images of the lamina cribrosa with other changes that occur in the retina and in a patient's vision. Therefore, our work is really a collaborative effort between several scientists and clinicians in the College of Optometry."
Porter's group works closely with Ronald Harwerth, John and Rebecca Moores Professor and chair of the department of basic sciences, who is a leading expert in how structural changes in the
|Contact: Lisa Merkl|
University of Houston