In even-numbered years, the António Champalimaud Vision Award is given for contributions to overall vision research. The 2012 award, given by the Champalimaud Foundation (Lisbon, Portugal), recognizes two novel approaches for visualizing the living human retina: optical coherence tomography (OCT) and adaptive optics (AO).
The award for OCT recognizes the combination of low coherence interferometry methodologies of James Fujimoto and Eric Swanson of MIT (Cambridge, MA) and David Huang of Oregon Health & Science University (Portland, OR), with insights for clinical application by Carmen Puliafito of the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) and Joel Schuman of the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania).
David Williams' application of AO to the eye has dramatically advanced the ability to probe the dimensions of the cone spacing matrix, a limiting factor in visual resolution. Imaging individual cones noninvasively over weeks, months, and years is providing novel insights into retinal changes caused by aging and disease.
Both techniques have facilitated the study of retinal structure, helped unravel the mechanisms of human ocular disease, and enabled better monitoring of clinical outcomes. The techniques' imaging properties—alone, and, potentially, together—hold enormous promise for 3D, in-vivo, cell-scale imaging that will further advance research discovery and clinical care. The award recipients will split the $1.3 million cash prize to fund further research.