Chief technology officer at Optos, Derek Swan, discusses innovation in optometry and ophthalmology with OT and how it affects future practice
What is Optos’ research and development team currently working on?
We have a large research and development department, which runs across a number of core technologies relating to our imaging devices and software solutions.
Our primary products are based on ultra-widefield imaging and we continue to research the core technologies relating to photonics, electronics and algorithm developments.
This work is carried out to improve detection of disease, analysis and the management of retinal conditions for both optometry and ophthalmology. We’re looking at different methods of interrogating the retina, reflectance modes, looking at florescent signatures and anything else that can give us early indications and better information about retinal health to better inform patient outcomes.
How does Optos see the relationship between optometrists and ophthalmologists changing, and what role does the company play in this?
There is a major challenge across both of those areas as the number of older patients grows and there is an increased demand for the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye conditions. We need a healthcare approach that addresses the needs of an ageing population and manages the costs associated with that.
There is also a mutual need for a more joined up approach and comprehensive solutions across healthcare. There will be increased interdependency across all ophthalmic healthcare providers, from the local point of care, through to referrals and hospital management.
"We need a healthcare approach that addresses the needs of an ageing population and manages the costs associated with that"
Optos’ role in that is to drive the services that we offer our optometry and ophthalmology customers, but also ensuring that the framework and the referral tools that they use and how that patient information is managed is consistent across optometry and ophthalmology.
As much as we also seek out specific novel methods of looking at the retina and overall ocular health, we also try and drive complementary technology platforms so that images collected from one device can be compared to another at all stages – from screening through to retinal treatment. The work that we’ve done to lay that foundation of consistent measurement and consistent geometries across all of our products and services is core to supporting that process.
What product development is in the pipeline at Optos that the company believes will influence the future of optics?
We’re looking to push retinal imaging in terms of image quality, resolution and contrast to try and get as much information from the retina as possible. That drives us towards photonic technologies, integration of optical coherence tomography (OCT) and florescent modes to try and get that information out.
We also look to develop complementary software analytics that allows for assessment of retinal and systemic disease. We’re engaged with a number of programmes that are disease specific, including age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
We have introduced a new product this year. It is the only ultra-widefield imaging device with integrated widefield OCT. It gives eye care professionals the opportunity to look at retinal structure within the widefield retinal image to give better screening, diagnostic monitoring and practise efficiency through a single device. I think that we continue to push that ease of use and try to provide as many different modalities for practise efficiency that is useful for the management of their patients.