A new digital ophthalmoscope, devised by a team led by
, can provide doctors and optometrists with a hand-held eye disease diagnosis device equal to the power of hospital-based eye diagnosis cameras. It will also give optometrists the ability to email detailed eye maps of patients to specialist eye doctors.
Ophthalmoscopes, which act as an illuminated microscope for the eye, have changed little in design in the last century. As a result the effective operation of the device is said to be constrained by the skill, expertise and eyesight of the eye specialist.
The new digital ophthalmoscope (developed from a three-year research partnership bringing together the University of Warwick, ophthalmoscope manufacturer Keeler Optics, City University, and UCL) uses a combination of specialist lens digital imaging and lighting technology which for the first time allows a high quality digital image to be captured and recorded by an ophthalmoscope.
According to a statement, this technology will be a powerful tool in the hands of specialist eye doctors, but it will also change eye care on the high street. Previously high street opticians have had to rely on notes and hand drawn sketches when referring customers to eye clinics. This new technology will allow them to create and email detailed eye images to hospital specialists cutting patient referral and diagnosis times and massively easing the burden on expensive and overstretched hospital eye equipment.
‘It will allow digital images of disease such as the potentially blinding complications of diabetes and glaucoma to be accurately and quickly sent to specialists who will then be able to arrange appropriate treatment. I foresee a relatively inexpensive instrument that is about the size of a mobile phone in common use in the near future.’