Industrial research projects aimed at manufacturing tiny optical probes may have repercussions in the tricky world of ophthalmic surgery. Peter Bryanston-Cross, a professor and researcher with the Optical Engineering Laboratory at the University of Warwick, has begun a research effort to simplify vitreo-retinal surgery by designing a tiny laser surgical device.
Bryanston-Cross' success in previous projects sparked the interest of Sterimedex Ltd. of Redditch, UK, which is developing the instrument with him. The new device will consist of a ceramic probe with two hollow tubes, much like an endoscope. Down one of the tubes, he plans to thread a fiber optic cable. At the end of the tube, lenses will direct laser light from the cable up through the second tube, which also will have suction attached to it. He said he plans to use an 870-nm diode laser supplied by a Russian company, but he did not want to discuss more details.
Thirst for devices
The device will be used to treat diabetic retinopathy patients who have ruptured microaneurysms that are covering up the retina.
Bryanston-Cross said he has had numerous requests to design other laser instruments since he began the project. "The amount of interest in this project is very high," he said. "Among surgeons there seems to be a thirst for new devices; they want better instruments, and the types that we are designing could have real advantages. With this project, though, we are only just beginning.