Infrared ear thermometers, cordless vacuum cleaners, and memory foam mattresses are all products you’ll likely find around your home. But these three household items also had their beginnings in space, assisting astronauts in exploring the final frontier.
The latest space technology spinoff comes from the engineers at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC). It’s a device whose technology is typically used to detect faint light from distant stars and galaxies, but which has been modified to detect the earliest stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD, a disease that causes loss of vision starting with the center of the field of vision and moving outward, is said to be the world’s most common form of vision loss in adults.
The device is called a “retinal densitometer,” and it works by measuring changes in the amount of light reflected by the retina after exposure to a bright light source. Compared to current detection techniques, the retinal densitometer is far more sensitive to light changes, can measure responses to light from different parts of the retina, and is completely non-invasive. Early tests using the device have shown that the light changes on the macula with AMD can be highly accurately measured and differentiated from light response in subjects with a healthy macula.
More from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council: Astronomy technology used for early detection of AMD – the developed worlds leading cause of sight loss…