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Creating a ‘Google Map’ of the retina with a shoebox-sized scanner

“The blood vessels are the highways and the different parts of the retina are neighbourhoods. A clinician can zoom in to different regions of the retina”

09 Jan 2018 by Selina Powell

Scientists in Canada have developed a high-resolution retinal imaging scanner the size of a shoebox that can produce intricate pictures of the eye – revealing individual photoreceptors and fine capillaries.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) engineering scientist, Marinko Sarunic, highlighted that the technology is a breakthrough in clinical diagnostics.

“With the high-resolution scanner, ophthalmologists and optometrists can detect damage and changes to small numbers of individual photoreceptors, giving them a diagnosis before the patient loses vision, and the potential to take preventative measures,” he explained.

Professor Sarunic is working with the SFU Innovation Office to commercialise the technology.

SFU engineering scientist, Merza Faisal Beg, described the innovation as the “equivalent of Google Maps for the retina.”

“The blood vessels are the highways and the different parts of the retina are the different neighbourhoods. A clinician can zoom in to different regions of the retina, and in doing so they can get an amazing real-time picture of what is going on behind the eye,” he shared.

Ophthalmologists at Vancouver General Hospital have spent eight months testing the scanner.

Vitreoretinal specialist, Dr Eduardo Navaja, highlighted that the scanner could lead to the early detection of eye disease.

“The new imaging technology is benefiting patients, allowing us to diagnose and treat wet AMD and diabetic eye disease before patients develop bleeding and permanent damage to their retina,” he shared.

Image credit: Simon Fraser University

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