Knowing that more than 10% of the global population over the age of 60 has age-related macular degeneration (which causes vision loss and leads to blindness), researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU; Kongens Lyngby, Denmark) have improved upon optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging to produce a full 3D image of all the layers of the retina, allowing doctors to better diagnose and treat eye diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer. The method will enable medics to take an image of the eye 10X faster and over 10X longer range than ever before, improving their ability to assess the condition of the eye and to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
Eye specialists currently use OCT imaging, which is noninvasive—but because the eye is continuously moving, it can only make partial images. Until now, this technology hasn’t been fast enough to take a full image of the eye.
So, the DTU researchers have developed a swept light source technology that makes it possible to take full 3D OCT images of the eye and this innovative technology is being commercialized by the university spinout company OCTLIGHT ApS. With support from Europe's ACTPHAST 4.0 incubator for photonics innovation, OCTLIGHT has been able to solve a critical challenge in miniaturizing the packaging of this novel laser technology to meet commercial marketplace demands.
OCTLIGHT is now manufacturing these light sources to be used by medical technology companies in the commercialization of full 3D OCT imaging devices.
"The field of vision and depth is critical to diagnosing diseases of the retina. Our technique allows you to image the whole eye from front to back in 3D. It scans faster so you can image a larger part of the retina. It allows you to image 150 degrees of the retina, and penetrates the eye, allowing you to see all the layers of the retina," says Thor Ersted Ansbæk, CEO of OCTLIGHT.
The researchers developed a compact and cost-efficient light source module and processing capability that "sweeps" through the wavelengths of the optical spectrum faster and has the ability of imaging deeper into tissue. The product addresses the challenges faced by medical devices companies in terms of finding a suitable laser technology for commercialization of 3D full-eye imaging.
Imaging the whole eye is critical with diseases such as cataracts where the lens becomes cloudy and has to be replaced. 3D full eye imaging will enable surgeons to work out what lens to use and plan the operation much more accurately than previously.
OCTLIGHT is currently scaling up their production and aims to grow to a team of 25 people and a turnover of more than €10 million within five years.
For more information, please visit dtu.dk.