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Evolving OCT Technology Fuels Growing Market

BioPhotonics
Sep 2017
JUSTINE MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR, justine.murphy@photonics.com

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a well-established technology, widely used in ophthalmology, employed by eye-care professionals as a tool to help understand and diagnose retinal conditions. But scientists are finding new applications — in dermatology, aesthetics, and cancer diagnosis and treatment. And as the technology evolves, so, too, does its global market.

Kristen Ingenito, director of ophthalmology at Market Scope LLC — a research firm that produces data and analysis for the ophthalmic marketplace — has found that ophthalmic diagnostics as a whole is a $3.3 billion market; OCT makes up one-fifth of those overall revenues. The OCT subset is estimated to reach $697 million in total manufacturer revenue by the end of 2017, she said, and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 4.4 percent, pushing it to $865 million by 2022.

Market Scope said that much of this growth will come from software upgrades and demand for “newer, more featured devices” to replace those currently in use, as well as from expansion of eye-care services in developing markets. Ingenito said recent innovations, such as systems that combine OCT technology with fundus imaging or scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO) technology, are also growing in popularity.

Emerging markets, including China and India, should experience faster growth, and thus a slight increase in their share of overall revenues, Market Scope said. The expansion of advanced eye-care services and the general expansion in medical systems will cultivate demand from a growing middle class.

Allen Nogee, senior analyst with Laser Markets Research LLC, a market research firm that focuses in photonics and related fields, said that some of OCT’s newer applications have the most growth potential. “Although [OCT] technology has been around for more than 25 years, much of its full potential has yet to be reached,” he added.

A new area in which market experts anticipate fervent growth is dermatology, namely for diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers and other skin conditions.

“The effectiveness of using OCT to identify cancers is still in its early stages,” Nogee said. “I think the area of dermatology could eventually catch up to ophthalmology in terms of OCT revenue.”

For this to happen, OCT technology and other medical diagnostic equipment must be modified to promote more widespread use. Such devices are still typically bulky, expensive and designed for singular or limited application.

“I think eventually OCT devices will shrink to create devices not unlike that envisioned many years ago on ‘Star Trek,’” Nogee said. “Imagine if a nurse in India with limited medical training could take out a device the size of a smartphone, place it on the patient’s skin and instantly identify a skin condition, determine if it’s malignant or benign and provide a list of treatment options, all within two minutes. We are certainly not there yet, but I think we may see such technology emerge in our lifetime.”

GLOSSARY
ophthalmology
The branch of medicine involved in the study of the anatomy, functions, diseases and treatments of the eye.
optical coherence tomographyOCTophthalmologydermatologyaestheticscancerGlobal MarketKristen IngenitoMarket Scope LLCfundus imagingscanning laser ophthalmoscopeSLOAllen NogeeStrategies Unlimitedskin cancerdiagnosticsEuropeAsia-PacificAmericasBiophotonicsBioPhotonics Sourcebook

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