After its video contest, Nikon Small World has just announced the winners of its 2023 photo competition. The winner of the 49th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography contest is Hassanain Qambari assisted by Jayden Dickson for a remarkable and significant image of a rodent optic nerve head. Other than looking spectacular, this image provides an important contribution to the study and reversal of diabetic retinopathy, which affects one in five persons with diabetes worldwide.
Hassanain Qambari works at the Lions Eye Institute, and he’s devoted nearly three years of his time and research to the early detection and reversal of diabetic retinopathy. The disease occurs when high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye, known as the retina. The damaged blood vessels can swell and leak, which can cause blurry vision or total loss of eyesight.
“Current diagnostic criteria and treatment regimens for diabetic retinopathy are limited to the late-stage appearance of the disease, with irreversible damage to retinal microvasculature and function,” said Qambari. “The visual system is a complex and highly specialized organ, with even relatively minor perturbations to the retinal circulation able to cause devastating vision loss. I entered the competition as a way to showcase the complexity of retinal microcirculation.”
Quambari’s vivid image shows astrocytes in yellow, contractile proteins in red, and retinal vasculature in green. But taking this photo didn’t come without challenges. Above all, it was a pain locating fine vessels near 110 microns in diameter and establishing a protocol for labeling different cell types. “Over the past 20 years, our research group has refined the technique of isolated ocular perfusion labeling for fine vessels in the eye,” said Qambari. “While the ophthalmic artery in the rodent model presented a technically demanding challenge, we were able to overcome it with persistence and patience.”
Ole Bielfeldt won second place for his image of a matchstick igniting by the friction surface of the box. He took the image within one eight-thousands of a second and used imaging stacking to achieve the final result. Third place was awarded to Malgorzata Lisowska for her image of breast cancer cells.
In addition to the top three winners, Nikon Small World recognized 83 photos out of thousands of entries from scientists and artists across the globe. But we won’t go through all of them here, of course. Enjoy the rest of the top 20 images, and make sure to visit the Nikon Small World website for more exquisite photos.