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Add-On 3D Imager Enables Affordable Treatments for Eye Conditions

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GLASGOW, Scotland, July 25, 2022 — An ophthalmological device developed at the University of Strathclyde supports low-cost screenings for eye disease. The device captures 3D images of the retina and the back of the eye, as well as the cornea — which is an important feature for cornea transplant patients.

The initial prototype was funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physics Research Council. The next step for the R&D team is to make the technology available to the medical community.

The university is partnering with digital innovation group IDCP to translate the 3D imaging device into a medical product.

As an add-on to standard slit lamps that are used routinely by optometrists and ophthalmologists around the world to perform eye exams, the device could support a global community of providers and patients. Although clinicians can obtain 3D images of the eye using OCT, the cost of this technology is beyond the reach of many countries and regions of the world. In the absence of 3D imaging, eye specialists often rely on photographs and professional expertise to diagnose diseases — glaucoma, for example, which affects an estimated 7.7 million people worldwide.

“So much of what we do as eye doctors depends on seeing things in 3D,” said Iain Livingstone, a consulting ophthalmologist at NHS Forth Valley in Scotland. “While photographs can be helpful, this innovation uses visible light to re-create a high-fidelity 3D representation of eye structures, allowing precise measurements to be taken in a completely new way, piggybacking on the method of examination we already do routinely.”

The new imaging technology could make 3D eye imaging practical for large-scale population use.

“The technology has the potential to revolutionize the screening and follow-up within the community of conditions such as glaucoma, as any optometrist, anywhere in the world, could afford it,” biomedical engineer Mario Giardini said. “This work makes eye diagnostics more accessible, reducing inequalities.”
Mario Giardini from the University of Strathclyde tests the cost-effective ophthalmological device. The technology adds on to standard slit lamps that are used routinely by optometrists and ophthalmologists around the world and obtains 3D images of multiple parts of the eye. Courtesy of the University of Strathclyde.
Mario Giardini from the University of Strathclyde tests the cost-effective ophthalmological device. The technology adds on to standard slit lamps that are used routinely by optometrists and ophthalmologists around the world and obtains 3D images of multiple parts of the eye. Courtesy of the University of Strathclyde.
Giardini is one of the inventors of the 3D imaging device, along with researchers Ian Coghill and Kirsty Jordan. All three are affiliated with the university’s department of biomedical engineering.

A modified version of the current device and technology could potentially be used to take 3D “selfies” of the retina. This would allow the technology to be used in unassisted settings, such as pharmacies.

“Patients can be imaged easily and inexpensively, without the need for a specialist to be present,” Giardini said. “Our device reliably takes 3D images, and it is comfortable and fast, at less than a second.”

The inventors of the device hope that, in the future, eye specialists will be able to use the device to detect eye cancer. Livingstone, who has collaborated with Giardini on previous ophthalmology projects, said that the simple add-on device has the potential to supplant ocular ultrasound for measuring solid tumors of the eye.

“It’s a crucial addition to the way we interpret information, harnessing digital to glean so much more from a slit lamp exam, with potential reach far beyond the hospital toward community optometry, bringing nuanced measuring tools closer to home for patients,” Livingstone said.

Photonics.com
Jul 2022
Biophotonicseye diseaseeye careeye care diagnosticsmedicalimaging3D image3D imagingEuropeBusinessmedical devicesopthalmologyResearch & TechnologyUniversity of Strathclyde

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