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Researchers develop hand-held retinal scanner

January 13, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a hand-held optical scanner which they say can scan a person's entire retina in seconds and can be used for early detection of diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

In a paper published in the Optical Society's journal, Biomedical Optics Express, the researchers explain that the new device uses a laser, a MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) scanning mirror and a software algorithm to create a 3-D image. "This technology should enable screening applications to identify early retinal disease before irreversible vision impairment or loss occurs," the team of researchers, led by Chen D. Lu, said. The portability of the scanner holds great promise for applications beyond traditional eye clinics, including in skilled nursing facilities, on retirement campuses and at home.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss in older adults, followed by diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, notes the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute. More than 1.75 million seniors have AMD, a number that is expected to double by 2020.