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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute


Bascom Palmer’s Advanced Retinal Image Reading Center – AVATAR – is dedicated to use of a non-invasive imaging technology called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) as a secondary outcome measure for ophthalmic clinical trials, and for telemedicine application. AVATAR focuses on an advanced version of OCT called spectral domain-OCT that enables the reconstruction of a high resolution 3-D image, from which specific anatomic features can be mathematically quantified.

The term avatar – originally from Hindu mythology – refers to the temporary body a god inhabits while visiting earth. In virtual communities, the term is now being used to describe the user’s visual embodiment in cyberspace. Extending the analogy, the digitized 3-D image of the retina reconstructed from a spectral domain-OCT scan can be considered the avatar of the eye.


AVATAR is co-led by medical retina specialists who care for patients at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s hospital and clinics, as well as scientists and engineers who are advancing the technological frontiers within their labs at Bascom Palmer’s McKnight Vision Research Center. Through AVATAR projects, this shared leadership team is translating technological innovation to clinical research and clinical care.

Senior oversight for AVATAR is provided by Bascom Palmer’s Chairman Dr. Carmen Puliafito, who is the co-inventor of OCT and its application to ophthalmology.

AVATAR leverages the experience and expertise within Bascom Palmer’s successful Optic Disk Reading Center (ODRC). The ODRC is a resource center for the National Eye Institute, currently serving multiple NEI-sponsored clinical outcomes studies.

Partnering Units

Experienced data management and evaluation expertise for AVATAR projects is provided by Bascom Palmer’s Biostatistics Center (BSC).

Imaging for AVATAR projects is being implemented at Bascom Palmer’s Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital within the recently opened Estelle and George G. Rosenfield Imaging and Macula Center.

New imaging hardware and software for image analysis are continually under development in the Center for Ophthalmic Imaging and Biomedical Engineering of the McKnight Vision Research Center.

AVATAR’s telemedicine application is being developed in partnership with Anne E. Burdick, MD, MPH, Associate Dean for Telehealth and Clinical Outreach at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Start-up funding for this purpose has been provided by the US ARMY through its Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).


AVATAR is located within Bascom Palmer’s Ophthalmic Clinical Research Center on the 15th floor of the medical school’s new Clinical Research Building.


Marina Alvarez, Administrative Director
Phone: 305-326-6045
William L. McKnight Building, 5th floor