Retinal vascular diseases are among the leading cause of vision loss in the working age and older population. Over decades of life, diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration can lead to dysfunction and abnormal growth of blood vessels. The earliest pathologic changes in these diseases occur at the level capillaries within and around the retina, but they are undetectable to the naked eye or to the doctor in the clinic until significant damage has been done.
Dr. Amir Kashani is developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic methods to diagnose and treat retinal diseases using advanced imaging methods that can detect the earliest changes in retinal capillaries before they are noticeable to the patient or doctor. For example, his research has demonstrated that impairment in retinal capillary blood flow is diffusely present and detectable in patients with the earliest stages of diabetic retinopathy. These changes are not only present in diabetes, but also in many systemic vascular diseases that impair blood vessel function such as hypertension, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. Accurately detecting and quantifying these early capillary level changes would provide novel diagnostic tools for understanding the disease process, detecting disease progression and enabling development of targeted treatments.
Dr. Kashani’s research has been recognized nationally and internationally. He is the lead investigator of the Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography initiative in the MarkVCID multicenter study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Brightfocus Foundation. This five-year study aims to develop a clinically useful biomarker of retinal capillary changes to monitor the development of a prevalent form of cerebrovascular disease called vascular cognitive impairment and dementia. This is one of the leading causes of cognitive impairment, on par with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Kashani is also the principal investigator for a first-in-man phase 1/2a clinical trial to test a novel stem cell therapy for severe vision loss from advanced dry age-related macular degeneration. For this study Dr. Kashani and the research team pioneered a novel surgical procedure to insert a sheet of cells underneath the damaged retina of 15 patients with geographic atrophy.
Dr. Kashani’s work has been recognized nationally and internationally by his peers. In 2016, he was named one of the top 150 innovators in the field of medical and surgical retina by Ocular Surgery News. In 2017, he was named one of the top 50 “rising stars” worldwide in the field of ophthalmology by The Ophthalmologist. Dr. Kashani’s clinical work has been recognized by multiple organizations and publications including Pasadena Magazine’s Top Doctors, America’s Top Ophthalmologist, and Best Doctors in America.
Featured Publications (Slideshow)
Our Research in the Media
Earlier Insight into Alzheimer’s Disease. Wilmer (Fall 2021)
Feature on novel intraoperative surgical method for delivery of stem cell derived biosynthetic implant by Dr. Kashani. Modern Retina from Ophthalmology Times (Jul. 2019)
Interview with Dr. Kashani on subretinal stem cell implant for geographic atrophy. American Academy of Ophthalmology (Sept. 2018)
3D Animation of OCT and OCTA from a Human Subject
The animation illustrates the 3D structure of the retinal vasculature and our ability to classify vessels based on size and shape using novel 3D analysis methods developed by our group. Animation by Amir Kashani and USC Laboratory of Neuroimaging.
3D Animation of OCTA from a Human Subject with Macular Edema
The animation illustrates the 3D structure of the retinal vasculature in relation to areas of intraretinal fluid. Animation by Amir Kashani and USC Laboratory of Neuroimaging.
Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA) Images (Slideshow)
Dr. Amir Kashani
Research Program Supervisor
Sr. Research Specialist
Ana Collazo Martinez