A device that will enable early detection of eye disease in premature babies has been developed by researchers at Duke University Medical Center.
The technology uses spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT) to create a 3-D picture of the back of the eye.
"This new tool is changing the way we identify eye conditions in infants," says Cynthia Toth, MD, an ophthalmologist at the Duke Eye Center, who is leading the study that appears online this month in the journal Ophthalmology.
Current screening for ROP is based on two-dimensional images taken either with an ophthalmoscope or a camera placed directly on the infant's cornea.
"Examining the retina with these methods is like looking at the surface of the ocean and only seeing dimly into the shallow water," says Toth, a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering.
"You cannot see what lies below," the expert added.
SD OCT, on the other hand, uses a narrow beam of light to create a 3-D high-resolution map of the intricate detail in the retina's layers.
"This is like looking into an aquarium from the side, where all the fish at every depth are visible," Toth says.