Austria’s Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Vienna) researchers from the Centre for Medical Physics and Biomedical Technology have developed a new optical coherence tomography (OCT) technique called Line Field OCT to enable better three-dimensional imaging of the eye’s cellular structure.
OCT is a high-resolution live imaging technique designed to allow early identification of retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetes-related conditions, glaucoma and vascular occlusions.
It employs a process called optical biopsy that uses light to produce high-resolution cross-sectional images of biological tissue.
The technique is considered complicated as the cellular resolution of the retina requires costly adaptive lenses to correct the aberrations that might occur during imaging.
Developed at the Christian Doppler OPTRAMED laboratory in the university, the new Field OCT uses linear illumination to enable rapid frame rates required for these corrections.
The linear illumination further facilitates resolution of individual photoreceptors, capillary blood vessels, and nerve fibres in a single image.
It also refocuses, realigns and digitally processes the image data, delivering the best possible results for diagnostic purposes.
OCT is currently being used for early identification of skin cancers and is expected to have applications for diagnostics in other medical sectors such as surgery and dentistry.
Christian Doppler Laboratory Innovative Optical Imaging and its Translation into Medicine head Rainer Leitgeb said: “This technique can conceivably also be used for diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases.
“The eye is the window into the brain. Our hope is that the higher resolution will help to improve diagnostic accuracy in general."
When it completes the necessary clinical studies, MedUni Vienna intends to commercialise the new OCT technology in partnership with German firm Carl Zeiss Meditec.
Image: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a high-resolution live imaging technique. Photo: courtesy of Medical University of Vienna, Austria.