A unique new non-invasive technique for high resolution optical imaging of the eye

A unique new non-invasive technique for high resolution optical imaging of the eye is receiving global acclaim.

The technique, pioneered by the University of Kent, is funded by the Toronto-based company, Ophthalmic Technology Inc (OTI). The University’s Applied Optics Group is currently working with university hospitals in New York (USA), Osaka (Japan), Asahikawa (Japan), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Milan (Italy) to carry out preliminary clinical trials. By combining two high-resolution imaging technologies, the new technique provides doctors with 3-D images of the retina, macula and the optic nerve. Such high resolution images provide clinicians with capabilities for early diagnosis and treatment of common ocular diseases such as glaucoma, diabetes and age-related macula degeneration. OTI is planning in the near future to extend the clinical research to other leading university medical centres in Japan, USA and Europe.

The Kent team, based in the School of Physical Sciences, is the only research group in the world carrying out this type of work. Co-ordinated by Professor Adrian Podoleanu, it operates out of two laboratories. One is in the UK at the University’s Canterbury campus and the other is in the United States at the New York Medical College, where Adrian Podoleanu is a Visiting Professor. Other members of the team include Professor David Jackson, Dr John Rogers, a former Kent PhD student now the director of OCT Research at OTI and lecturer George Dobre.

Adrian Podoleanu explained: ‘At Kent we created a very cost effective imaging system which simultaneously produces optical coherence tomography (OCT) and scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO) images. Its early potential was immediately realised by OTI, who commissioned the assembly of several prototypes to be tested in different clinics worldwide before embarking on commercial exploitation of the invention’.

The first clinic to test the new instrument was at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Since the first installation, OTI, The Applied Optics group in Kent and the Retina Research Lab in New York work together to further improve and enhance the performance of the technology.

Dr Richard Rosen, Director of the Retinal Imaging Laboratory, was so impressed by the results that he and his researchers have been working closely with the team ever since and are currently involved with the clinical trials.

He said: ‘The simultaneous presentation of images drawn from two technologies, developed by the Kent group has opened several exciting avenues in imaging the eye, giving us access to a world of minute details not possible to be visualised by the more conventional imaging technologies’.

The clinical investigators together with the Kent team have jointly published in international medical publications and presented at clinical and scientific conferences over 50 publications and presentations related to this research.

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