Scientists develop new retinal imaging scanners which help diagnose eye diseases before vision loss occurs

21 December 17

written by:

Yewande Omoniyi

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Dr Marinko Sarunic, an engineering scientist from Simon Fraser University in Canada, has developed a high-resolution laser scanner which can help ophthalmologists diagnose eye diseases before the occurrence of vision loss.

The laser scanner is able to produce high-resolution, 3-D cross-section images of the retina, including individual photoreceptors, fine capillaries or blood vessels. Currently, only low-resolution scanners are available to physicians. These can only assess and diagnose the cause of dead retina cells after a patient has lost vision.

The technology is non-invasive so the scanners can be used to frequently monitor the retina for changes or detect whether medications are working. Potentially, ophthalmologists and optometrists could take preventative measures before the patient loses vison, as the scanner can allow the detection of damage or changes to a small number of individual photoreceptors. Early detection is beneficial in many eye diseases, such as glaucoma, to prevent sight loss. It is extremely important to have regular eye tests prior to symptoms arising, to help ensure the best opportunity for preserving your sight.

Dr Sarunic is now developing another version of the scanner that ophthalmologists can use for image-guided operations.

George McNamara, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at Fight for Sight, said: “This research has shown the huge potential that exists by exploiting the advances in technology. The use of technology in detection is opening up a new horizon of ways to examine the health of the eye. These laser scanners could revolutionise detection of eye disease and become a new valuable tool in the armoury of ophthalmologists to identify and prevent sight before it occurs.”

This research has been funded by: Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Alzheimer Society of Canada, Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation, Brain Canada, Genome Canada, and the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

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