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Camera detects sight-threatening eye conditions in real time

BioPhotonics
May 2013

SYDNEY – A multispectral imaging system that rapidly identifies general health disorders and blinding eye diseases like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy will soon be available in some of the most remote and underserved regions in the world.

The intelligent retinal camera (IRC) system, designed at the Vision Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) with $5 million in stimulus funding from the Australian government, is expected to close the gap in eye health in extreme environments, such as Australian Aboriginal communities.


A multispectral imaging system capable of recording high-resolution images of the retina to detect sight-threatening diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma is under development by the Vision Cooperative Research Centre. Courtesy of Quantum Catch.


“Living in remote communities seriously disadvantages patients through lack of access to optometrists and ophthalmologists,” said Brien Holden, CEO of Vision CRC and Brien Holden Vision Institute. “The IRC will detect, measure and assess the potential for blinding disease, thus preventing lengthy delay in getting treatment to those in need in marginalized communities.”

Aboriginal people will be among the first to experience the technology, but private and public health sectors also can benefit. Most medical devices of this nature are currently aimed at affluent populations.

The multispectral imaging technology was first designed and developed by professor Tom Cornsweet of Quantum Catch LLC in Prescott, Ariz.


An optometrist and a patient at the Aboriginal Medical Services in central Australia. Courtesy of the Brien Holden Vision Institute program/Mark Cushway.


The system is “capable of recording high-resolution stereo images of the retina to identify features that might indicate active or prospective eye conditions,” Stephen Davis, communications manager at Vision CRC partner Brien Holden Vision Institute, told BioPhotonics. Vision CRC will work with colleagues in the US, China, India and Australia to develop algorithms capable of measuring and collating, for diagnostic purposes, key disease features to advise professionals of sight-threatening conditions.

Prototypes soon will be delivered for testing under real-world conditions.

“Many Aboriginal communities are located in hot, dry and dusty parts of the country, sometimes with unreliable power supplies,” Davis said. “The camera will need to be able to function successfully in these environments and be robust enough to be regularly moved either by road or light plane.”

The camera is expected to be available for use around the world in 2014.


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