A sophisticated new machine called a multifocal electroretinogram (ERG) was recently donated to the Department of Ophthalmology by the Minnesota Lions. Only a few dozen of these machines exist nationwide, and research is underway at the University of Minnesota and other institutions to determine their potential applications.
The concept behind the multifocal ERG is this: When a retina is stimulated by light, it turns that light into electrical signals that the brain reads. The multifocal ERG measures electrical signals after shining 103 different lights across a large part of the retina’s surface, providing a precise picture of how each portion and layer of the retina is functioning.
“The multifocal ERG is a very sensitive instrument,” explains Brian Tienor, who is spending a year between medical school and residency doing research in the Department of Ophthalmology.
“It’s good at ruling out certain eye diseases and at confirming a diagnosis,” he adds. “The multifocal ERG provides information that ophthalmologists haven’t had available to them before.”