An ophthalmological tool that has been developed by researchers can be used to identify various degenerative eye disease well in advance of the appearance of the first symptoms.
The prototype was demonstrated to provide images with a suitable level of precision in about five seconds during early clinical trials. Before degenerative eye disease symptoms appear, the gadget created at EPFL’s Laboratory of Applied Photonic Devices (LAPD) monitors changes in the RPE. This gives researchers the first in vivo images in which cells can be distinguished. An adaptive optical system that corrects for light wave aberrations to provide a clear image was developed by the EPFL team in a retinal camera. It has two oblique beams focused on the white of the eye. Termed as Transscleral Optical Imaging is a technology that utilises infrared light beams. It works in a manner similar to current retinal imaging devices.
“The morphology of these cells, which play an essential role in retinal function, is a strong indicator of their health,” says Laura Kowalczuk, a scientist at EPFL and Jules-Gonin Eye Hospital, and the paper’s lead author. “The ability to precisely detect RPE cells and observe morphological changes occurring in them is vital to the early detection of degenerative retinal disorders and to monitoring the efficacy of new treatments.”
But as of right now, there isn’t a tool that can accurately identify these illnesses before the first symptoms show up.
These diseases affect the photoreceptors of the eye. The age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most well-known. And the degeneration of the retinal pigmentary epithelium (RPE) is the common cause of all of them.
Creation of Transscleral Optical Imaging :
The EPFL team created a retinal camera with two oblique beams focused on the eye’s white. It also has an adaptive optical system that corrects light wave aberrations to generate a crisp image. The device uses infrared light beams similarly to current retinal imaging systems.
Testing the Transscleral Optical Imaging:
In collaboration with EarlySight, the researchers created a clinical prototype. The camera can capture 100 raw photos with an exposure time of less than five seconds. That is a significant speed advantage for future diagnostic usage.
The raw video is then aggregated and aligned by algorithms to create a single, crisp image for display.
The interface has five buttons that make it possible to choose the desired image. Additionally, users can click anywhere on the illustration of the back of the eye to choose the exact region they wish to image.
The Cellularis prototype device was created as a part of the EIT Health ASSESS project of the European Union. The camera was evaluated in a clinical trial directed by Irmela Mantel. They tested it in 29 healthy volunteers.
The camera’s photos in each situation were accurate enough to measure the morphological traits of the subjects’ RPE cells. For potential future contributions to medical research, they were saved in a database.
Future of Transscleral Optical Imaging :
Clinicians will be able to identify these illnesses before irreversible symptoms appear because to this early detection capabilities. In addition to generating AMD, the RPE’s decline also contributes to retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy, among other eye conditions.