Rapid detection for eye diseases

24 February 2014

A new portable optical device has been developed to detect common eye diseases. Scanning the patient's retina in seconds, the ophthalmic-screening instrument could assist physicians in the diagnosis of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

The device was created by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who published their findings in the open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express. It is roughly the size of a hand-held video camera and combines high-speed 3D imaging, a micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) mirror for scanning, and a technique to correct for patient movement. This is the first time these technologies have been used in tandem.

Typically, eye diseases are diagnosed using tabletop instruments in a specialist's office. Because few people visit such specialists regularly, many ocular conditions go undetected until irreversible vision loss occurs. This new device is intended to improve public access to eye care, detecting any diseases with one quick measurement.

"Hand-held instruments can enable screening a wider population outside the traditional points of care," said researcher James Fujimoto of MIT. "Developing screening methods that are accessible to the larger population could significantly reduce unnecessary vision loss."

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