New Retinal Laser Scanner For Earlier Diagnosis and Better Monitoring

New Retinal Laser Scanner For Earlier Diagnosis and Better Monitoring

Posted under Eye Health, Low Vision Info

Imaging the retina plays an important role in diagnosing and making treatment decisions for retinal eye diseases like age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR).  Seeing the deep layers of the retina like the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and capturing images for more detailed analysis are possible with this new retinal laser scanner. Early detection in diagnosing or in monitoring the progression of AMD or DR can help protect a patient’s vision or prevent future vision loss by offering treatment for these retinal conditions before symptoms or permanent damage occurs.   Engineering Science Professor, Marinko Sarunic, the developer of the new high resolution retinal imaging scanner, from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, believes it will change how and when retinal eye diseases are diagnosed.  The cutting edge imaging device uses low powered lasers that shine light into the back of the eye providing several benefits to the patient and eye doctor.


Assess the Health of the Retina with High Resolution

The scanner can image photoreceptor cells and allows one to see rods and cones in detail as well as small micro-capillaries and layers of the retina.  The 3D cross sectional images offer a comprehensive view at different angles. Eye doctors can zoom in on the saved images for more detail and identify structural changes, such as abnormal blood vessels, allowing them to make a diagnosis before the vessels begin to leak and before vision loss occurs.


Convenient Size

About the size of a shoe box, the device is practical for outpatient ophthalmology and optometry offices.


Help Educate the Patient and Family

The doctor, patient, and family member can review images and/or changes to the retina together providing opportunity for education and questions. The images of the macula, photoreceptor cells and layers of the retina can be pointed out by the doctor who can then explain possible treatment options based on what the images show.


Provide a Permanent Record and Opportunity for Comparison

The images can be saved and become part of a patient’s medical record making it possible to monitor eye changes or disease progression in more detail by comparing images from previous visits.


Less Invasive

There is no need for an injection of dye, as there is in a fluorescein angiogram test, to see the tiny blood vessels or capillaries of the retina.  Because the test is non-invasive the imaging can be done frequently to monitor structural changes or bleeds in the retina and to determine how well medications are working.


Ability to Monitor Structural Changes

In time, algorithms can be developed to better understand structural measurements and how they apply to disease progression.


The retinal laser scanner has been used and tested at Vancouver General Hospital and the technology is in the process of being licensed with the future hope of becoming commercialized.


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN