It is the physical conditions that complicate the precision of the imaging procedures that are used in the medical analysis of eye disease. The ocular surface is convex, the sharp image plane of the microscope is flat. The Cornea Dome Lens aims to revolutionize imaging in ophthalmology.
Worldwide, twenty million patients suffer from severe diseases of the eyeball surface. 125 million people wear contact lenses to correct defective vision. Their lens fit must be documented photographically on a regular basis. More than twenty percent of the western population suffers from dryness-related complaints of the ocular surface. About half of them require regular ophthalmological examinations.
Medical care for all of these cases revolves around the analysis of the ocular surface. High-resolution color photographic documentation is required in order to detect pathological abnormalities.
Currently slit lamp cameras are used for this. Unfortunately, their precision is complicated by the nature of the eye. The problem is that the eye is spherical and the camera is only able to focus on a flat image surface. This means that if you capture an image of the eye, you only ever see one ring zone in focus. So far, this problem has been avoided by taking several photos. The patient has to change the position of their eye with each photo. Yet at the same time, high precision is called for. Images taken during a consult must be comparable with other images in order to detect changes in the condition of the eye. However, comparability is not always assured when the position of the eye is changed.
Adaptable optical lens module
Cornea Dome Lens should solve this problem. It is a new type of lens module whose image plane is precisely adapted to the curvature of the eye. This adaptation is achieved by using several lenses. These lenses have an aspherical curvature and are capable of overcoming errors in focusing. The lens structure is mounted on a reflex camera like a lens. The patient always fixates on the same point during the recording. This means that the eye is always in the same position and the photos are therefore always completely comparable.
Integrated digital image analysis software
Cornea Dome Lens stems from a research project that the physician Bernhard Steger from the University Clinic for Ophthalmology and Optometry at the Medical University of Innsbruck had already started during a research residency in Lisbon. The challenge was to transfer an existing technology into a completely new field of application. The method is now being further developed in cooperation with industry into a stand-alone imaging module with integrated digital image analysis software.
Control and prevention
Specifically, the Cornea Dome Lens optical lens module enables high-resolution focused color photography of the entire anterior ocular surface. In addition to the improved form of imagery, Cornea Dome Lens also offers concrete analytical tools:
- Precise quantification of pathological changes to the ocular surface;
- Early detection of changes overthe course of diagnosis through improved reproducibility and standardization;
- Simplified contact lens fit assessment;
Cornea Dome Lens can be used to monitor and prevent ocular surface disease and significantly improves ocular surface disease therapy.
The Cornea Dome Lens project has already won several awards.
In 2017 it won the Point Guard Biosciences Innovation in Ophthalmology Award, which is worth over 10,000 US dollars.
In 2019, Cornea Dome Lens won the science2business Award out of eighteen entries in the category of existing business collaborations. The prize is sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs to the tune of 8,000 euros and awarded at the life-science-success conference. The research world is the laboratory. Additional skills are required when it comes to the successful serial implementation of research projects. This is the area which the science2business Award is dedicated to. Steger’s collaboration partner from industry is Optronia GmbH. Further collaboration partners from research are physicists in the field of optics at the Medical University of Innsbruck and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.