Research Roundup

The latest news from the Wildermuth Optometric Research Clinic
Wildermuth Optometric Research Clinic - Research Roundup

The Future is Now

Confocal microscope can image fluorescent proteins of living tissues in real time

It might look like a simple plastic box, but it’s actually the College of Optometry’s new confocal microscope, the BC43! A confocal microscope uses lasers to capture multiple images at different depths in the sample, which can then be assembled into a three-dimensional image in a computer. The eyepieces you might remember from your science lab days are an optional feature and largely unnecessary.


Dr. TJ Plageman and Angad Dhillon
TJ Plageman, PhD, and Angad Dhillon, an Ohio State undergraduate student working with Dr. Plageman for research credit, talk about the features of the confocal microscope.

The faculty, staff, and students in the college’s biology lab regularly use confocal microscopes to image histological sections or larger bits of tissue that have been fluorescently labeled to highlight target proteins. The fluorescent labels can be attached by modifying the ocular tissues to express fluorescent proteins or by staining them with protein-specific, fluorescently labeled antibodies. The images captured by the confocal microscope then allow visualization of the labeled proteins of interest within cells.

An exciting capability of this particular microscope is that it can image fluorescent proteins of living tissues in real time.  It is equipped with an incubation system that will preserve the native environment of tissues by regulating temperature and gases (such as carbon dioxide and oxygen). Because it can take images quickly and has an extremely sensitive camera, it can observe events and functions of proteins or cells deep within tissues that may otherwise be hidden using other types of microscopes.  

One of the leading users of the microscope is TJ Plageman, PhD, who shares his excitement over the new instrument: “I have never used a confocal microscope that produces high-quality data this easily. Because of the complexity and difficulty of using confocal microscopes at core facilities, it can be challenging for some students to use them. The BC43 will allow even the most novice student produce high-quality data easily. At least half a dozen students had a chance to use this microscope over the summer with minimal training.”

images from the confocal microscope
Images: Top left is section of an embryonic mouse eye. The center circular structure is the lens, and the outer structure will become the retina. The blue signals are cell nuclei, and the green and red signals are fluorescent proteins that are endogenousl

Jordan Awarded National Eye Institute (NEI) Grant

Lisa Jordan, PhD, was awarded $433,125 by the National Eye Institute for a new project, Leveraging CLEERE axial length data to improve myopia treatment. Dr. Jordan, who is working with Don Mutti, OD, PhD, Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD, and the Data Coordination and Analysis Center, will utilize the data collected during two NEI-funded studies, the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error (CLEERE) Study (U10EY008893) and the Berkeley Infant Biometry Study (BIBS - R01 EY11801), to develop norms for axial growth of the eye. The ultimate goal of this project is to create benchmarks for clinicians to use for myopia control, with respect to whom to treat and whether the treatment is successful.

Plageman Awarded Lions Club Grant

TJ Plageman, PhD, was awarded $40,000 by the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation for his study, Defining the developmental progression and dependence of junctional proteins on lens suture formation. He will investigate the potential role of the protein Arvcf in the developmental formation of the cells that make up lens tissue, focusing on the formation of the lens sutures, which are the anatomical seams formed by the alignment and conjunction of lens fiber cells. This protein may be important for allowing cells to adhere to each other in the lens suture region. Understanding the formation of these structures may inform our understanding of cataracts or other diseases affecting the transparency of the lens.

Reidy Awarded Lions Club Grant

Marielle Reidy (OD/MS’19) is the recipient of the 2023 Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation fellowship. She is interested in myopia control, and her research is investigating the hypothesis that the treatment effect from current myopia control techniques is due to chronic reduction in accommodation. She will monitor treatment effects in the retinal periphery using wide-angle ultrasound B-scan imaging. By better understanding the mechanism of control, she hopes to shed light on why current myopia control treatments have limited efficacy, hopefully leading to improved treatments.