25.04.2012

3D technology could help diagnose eye problems

3D technology could help diagnose eye problems

By Adrian Galbreth

A new type of technology could help to change the way in which eye problems are diagnosed and treated by providing eye experts with 3D images, it has been revealed.

Specialists from the University of Illinois, say the real-time, 3-D microscopic tissue imaging could be a revolution for medical fields such as ophthalmology, as well as cancer diagnosis and minimally invasive surgery.

The specialists have developed a technique to computationally correct for aberrations in optical tomography, bringing the future of medical imaging into focus, said Steven Adie, a postdoctoral researcher at the university's Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

"Computational techniques allow you to go beyond what the optical system can do alone, to ultimately get the best quality images and three-dimensional datasets. This would be very useful for real-time imaging applications," he added.

Currently, aberrations such as astigmatism or distortion severely hamper the effectiveness of high-resolution imaging, as they make objects that should look like fine points appear to be blobs or streaks, with the problem worsening as the resolution rises.

However, adaptive optics can correct aberrations in imaging, and so the Illinois researchers have begun applying adaptive optics hardware to microscopes, in a bid to improve cell and tissue imaging.

In addition, researchers are hoping to combine their computational adaptive optics with graphics processors, which could lead to real-time in-vivo applications for surgery, minimally invasive biopsy and many more procedures.

Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, bioengineering and internal medicine at the University of Illinois, said the effectiveness of the new procedure is "striking".

"Because of the aberrations of the human eye, when you look at the retina without adaptive optics you just see variations of light and dark areas that represent the rods and cones. But when you use adaptive optics, you see the rods and cones as distinct objects," he explained.

Professor Boppart said the team is now working to compute the best image possible to ensure maximum effectiveness.

by Alexa Kaczka


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