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This new optical imaging technique allows for a greater field of view and more accurate imaging of the cornea. Photo credit to Viacheslav Mazlin at the Langevin Institute.

A multi-institutional group of researchers, including some at the Langevin Institute in France, has developed a new optical instrument to view the cornea, using a technique based on optical coherence tomography (OCT). However, this new device matches the curvature of the cornea and provides a larger field of view. This also allows for the viewing of one corneal layer, instead of a straight field of view that cuts through several layers.

The new technique provides cell-level viewing detail, and ten-times the area of high-quality viewing compared to other devices. This can enhance the accuracy of disease diagnosis, as more details are visible within the cornea. Earlier identification of diseases can help with their treatment. Higher levels of detail in corneal imaging is also useful for monitoring patients with general health conditions that affect the cornea, including diabetes.

This novel instrument also has the potential to improve the results of cataract surgeries. To maintain proper functioning of the cornea, humans need to maintain above a certain threshold of endothelial cells. However, cataract surgery causes loss of endothelial cells. Improved detail in corneal imaging would allow the number of endothelial cells in patients to be counted more accurately.

OCT normally uses the interference between light from the cornea and light from a mirror mounted on a separate optical reference arm to function. However, this results in a flat optical slice view. This makes the resulting image susceptible to unwanted visual artifacts. In the new technique recently tested, the mirror on the optical reference arm is replaced with a curved optical lens, thereby reducing the risk of unwanted artifacts in the imagery and better capturing a single layer of the cornea in its entirety.

The device was initially tested on a model eye, then on the eye of a healthy person. According to the researchers, it took only a few minutes to center the device on the apex of the cornea, and capturing the image of the cornea for examination took only a fraction of a second. The capturing was successful, and provided an image of the subject’s endothelial cell slices in a viewing area larger than one square millimeter, larger than any other current methods are capable of capturing. The researchers also believe the device could be used to analyze any curved and transparent object, meaning its uses may be able to reach beyond studying the cornea.

Along with preparing for this device’s testing in clinical research, the researchers are also looking to add more features to this device. They are hoping to increase the field of view while only sacrificing a small amount of resolution, as well as develop automatic cell counting.

An author of this recent research, Viacheslav Mazlin, said:

“The cell-level resolution and large viewing area available from our instrument are ideal for monitoring corneal diseases like endothelial dysfunction and general diabetic conditions, understanding their evolution at the biological scale, and quantitatively evaluating the efficacy of novel treatment strategies.”

Via: The Optical Society

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