Scientists at Duke University have developed the first device that can be used to reliably image the retinas of young children. While imaging the eyes of adults is routine, children are more challenging because patience and cooperation are a required part of an eye exam. Bulky stationary devices that demand a few minutes of focus are simply not designed for young kids.
The Duke team’s handheld probe overcomes many of the limitations of stationary devices while performing scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and optical coherence tomography. Using the device, ophthalmologists are able to visualize the parafoveal photoreceptor structure down to individual cells in children as young as 14 months.
The probe weighs only 3.3 ounces (94 grams) and is small and convenient enough to easily place over the eyes of kids under anesthesia. There are no adaptive optics used, which are typically mirrors that can rapidly change their shape, allowing the system to be as compact as it is.
Some details according to Duke University’s announcement:
A new type of smaller scanning mirror recently reached a point where it could replace larger, older models. A new design using converging rather than collimated light cut the telescoping length of the device by a third. Custom lenses detailing curvature, thickness and glass type were custom designed by first author Francesco LaRocca and specially fabricated. And a mechanical design to hold and integrate the components was designed by Derek Nankivil—who, with LaRocca, recently graduated with their PhDs from Duke-and fabricated in a machine shop on Duke’s campus.
The new device was then given to clinicians for testing on adults, which proved that it was capable of getting accurate photoreceptor density information. It was also used for research imaging in children who were already having an eye exam under anesthesia.
Study in Nature Photonics: In vivo cellular-resolution retinal imaging in infants and children using an ultracompact handheld probe…