Game Changers: Instrumentation

Bill Harvey seeks the most seismic developments across instruments & equipment

The development of OCT has made it possible to visualise the important structures of the eye, including those hidden to standard view, with high resolution. It also measures the size of these structures with such accuracy and repeatability that even small changes over time, as might occur in early disease, can be detected.

The technique was first demonstrated in a 1991 article in the Science journal by David Huang et al and has evolved significantly since then. That said, OCT was just the latest development in a long line of innovations helping to visualise the ocular structures. From the first practical use of the ophthalmoscope by von Helmholtz in 1851 and the first in vivo human retinal photograph by Jackman and Webster in 1886, to the introduction of digitisation (allowing image enhancement and the data transfer), the use of selective incident light wavelengths and the development of wide-field scanning technology, all the way through to modern Doppler techniques for non-invasive kinetic imaging: I am sure Newton would describe OCT as standing on the shoulders of giants.

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