Device could ‘transform’ eye screening and treatment

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A pioneering low-cost device, developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde, that takes 3D images could transform eye screening and treatment across the world.

The device captures 3D images of the retina, back of the eye and cornea, and can be inexpensively added to a slit lamp, a device commonly used by optometrists.

Patients with conditions such as glaucoma, the third most common cause of visual impairment worldwide, with an estimated 7.7 million people affected, are often diagnosed by highly trained specialists, who look at pictures and give a subjective opinion on the 3D structure of the back of the eye.

Although there are instruments for 3D imaging, including optical coherence tomography technology, the machines can cost upwards of £100,000 which often makes them too expensive for large-scale use, especially in low-income countries. However, optometrists around the world have access to slit lamps. The new technology is a complement to a standard lamp and can extend 3D eye imaging to all environments where optometrists are present. It’s so simple that a modified version of the technology offers the potential for operator-free 3D retinal “selfies”, meaning it could also be deployed in unattended environments, such as pharmacies.

The technology can also be used to image the front of the eye, which is important for corneal transplant patients, as many machines cannot measure the edge of the cornea.

The device was developed by Dr Mario Giardini, Dr Ian Coghill and Kirsty Jordan, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde.

Dr Giardini said: “Patients can be imaged easily and inexpensively, without the need for a specialist to be present. Our device reliably takes 3D images, and it’s comfortable and fast, taking less than a second. “The technology has the potential to revolutionize community screening and monitoring of conditions such as glaucoma, as any optometrist, anywhere in the world, could afford. This work makes ocular diagnostics more accessible, reducing inequalities.

Dr Iain Livingstone, consultant ophthalmologist at NHS Forth Valley, who has worked with Dr Giardini on previous ophthalmology projects, said: ‘A lot of what we do as ophthalmologists is about looking at things. In 3D. While photographs can be helpful, this innovation uses visible light to recreate a high-fidelity 3D representation of ocular structures, allowing precise measurements to be taken in a completely new way, building on the examination method we we already do regularly.

“It’s a crucial addition to how we interpret information, harnessing digital to glean much more than a slit-lamp exam, with potential reach far beyond the hospital into optometry. community, bringing nuanced measurement tools closer to home for patients.” The researchers also hope it can eventually be used to detect eye cancer and Dr Livingstone added: “This addition turns a slit lamp into a ‘3D eye scanner’ with the potential to supplant the ‘Ocular Ultrasound to Measure Solid Tumors of the Eye.’

Initial prototyping was funded by the Engineering and Physics Research Council, part of UK Research & Innovation. The next step now is to make the technology available to the medical community, and the University has partnered with IDCP, a digital innovation group, to turn it into a medical product.

IDCP Group CEO Jan Boers said: “Working with the University of Strathclyde to develop new eye screening technology has been very productive, and this development will be an important step in enabling more accurate, accessible and cost-effective solutions. for global eye diagnostics and is a great complement to our eye screening business with RetinaScope and IDCP Scotland.

Jamie Thomson, Managing Director of IDCP Scotland, which has been supported by Scotland’s national economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, with a SMART grant of £85,000, said: “As an alumnus of the University of Strathclyde, I am very proud to work closely with the team helping to develop this technology, which has the potential to improve the quality of patient care and fits into IDCP Scotland’s key aim of revolutionizing the patient care in ophthalmology.

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