Space Technology Used to Detect Sight Loss

The device is a result of a collaboration between Cardiff University and engineers from the UK Astronomy Technology Center (UK ATC).

AMD is one of the most common diseases leading to vision loss. It affects the macula, a small section of the retina at the back of the eye. The ability to see detail and color is damaged in AMD patients. Looking at objects, other people, or straight ahead can all be affected by the disease. Pigments in the macula regenerate after being exposed to light in a healthy retina. But one of the earliest indications of AMD is when the retina does not reflect light properly after light exposure.

The Retinal Densitometer uses advanced technology from space and ground engineering. It is able to measure changes in the way the retina “dark adapts” after light exposure. By tracking very small changes over time in the quantity of light reflected, the device can recognize early macular problems.

Initial testing has been conducted with the Densitometer. Ten patients with early stages of AMD and an equal number of controls were examined. Researchers found that the Densitometer was able to accurately distinguish between the AMD and non-AMD groups. It was also able to measure macular changes in the AMD patients with a very high level of accuracy.

The next step is to conduct official clinical testing with the Densitometer. Once it can be fully commercialized, the device could have huge benefits for patients and doctors. Early detection of AMD can make a significant difference in treating the disease and preventing further sight loss. Opticians can more accurately diagnose patients and the potential for economic benefits are also significant.