An optical story

Capturing a series of images is important when photographing the eye


During more than four decades of medical photography, a fundamental principle guides Matthew Thomas’ work.

He aims to tell a story through the photographs he captures of the eye.

“It gives you context,” the Bristol Eye Hospital head of medical imaging explained.

“When a doctor examines a patient, they don't just look straight at the lesion, they will do a clinical examination and then look at the lesion. That's effectively what we're trying to mimic,” he added.

Mr Thomas delivered his presentation, An overview of ophthalmic photoslit lamp imaging, at 100% Optical in London on Saturday (4 February).

He outlined how he would take a series of photographs in his work.

“We might take six or eight pictures and the doctor will say, 'I only want that one',” Mr Thomas said.

“But they might say 'The patient was referred for this condition, but actually by telling a story you've picked up on something else’.”

Photographs which might be taken as part of a series included a general overview of the area, a close-up shot, a high magnification view, a photograph using special lighting and an image using dye staining.

During his talk, Mr Thomas detailed wide slit, narrow slit, and broadbeam techniques for taking photographs of the eye.

He also gave tips for capturing images of the eyelids and sclera, and outlined the use of colour stains to highlight tissue damage.

Mr Thomas explained that he found his field of work fascinating.

“I've been doing it for 43 years and I'm still learning. The more you learn, the more you realise you don't know,” he said.

He concluded: “Everything is developing and there is new technology coming out all the time. The older I get the more excited I am about it - I'm like a big kid. I sit in bed reading books about ophthalmic imaging.”

Image credit: Karen Roe