Cellularis detects degenerative ophthalmic diseases. (Credit: Laboratory of Applied Photonics Devices)

Researchers have developed an ophthalmological device that can be used to diagnose some degenerative eye disorders long before the onset of the first symptoms. In early clinical trials, the prototype was shown to produce images with a sufficient degree of precision in just five seconds.

The retinal camera features two oblique beams, trained on the white of the eye, coupled with an adaptive optical system that corrects distortions in the light waves to produce a clear image. This technology, dubbed transscleral optical imaging, is similar to existing retinal imaging systems in its use of infrared light beams. But it has one key difference: The beams focus obliquely through the white of the eye, which circumvents the problem of excess light caused by the highly reflective cone photoreceptor cells, located in the center of the eye, when the retina is illuminated via the pupil.

The light waves are then captured by the camera as they exit the eye through the pupil. The team says they had something of a eureka moment when they saw the first clear image on screen, since it was the first time anyone had observed this part of the human body using a clinically compatible imaging camera.

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