Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Low-Cost 3D Printed Retinal Scanner

Engineers at Duke University have developed a portable 3D printed retinal scanner that could offer a low-cost option to countries with limited resources. The optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner is fifteen times lighter and smaller than current OCT scanners on the market. These modifications also make it one tenth the cost of traditional retinal scanners. 

 

“Right now OCT devices sit in their own room and require a PhD scientist to tweak them to get everything working just right,” says Adam Wax, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University. “Ours can just sit on a shelf in the office and be taken down, used and put back without problems. We’ve scanned people in a Starbucks with it.”

From the Duke University article: "Wax’s design, however, takes the light on a circular path within a housing made mostly from 3D-printed plastic. Because the spectrometer light path is circular, any expansions or contractions due to temperature changes occur symmetrically, balancing themselves out to keep the optical elements aligned. The device also uses a larger detector at the end of the light’s journey to make misalignments less likely.

In the new study, J. Niklas Ulrich, retina surgeon and associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, put the new OCT scanner to the test against a commercial instrument produced by Heidelberg Engineering. He performed clinical imaging on both eyes of 60 patients, half from healthy volunteers and half with some sort of retinal disease.

To compare the images produced by both machines, the researchers used contrast-to-noise ratio—a measure often used to determine image quality in medical imaging. The results showed that, by this metric, the low-cost, portable OCT scanner provided useful contrast that was only 5.6 percent less than that of the commercial machine, which is still good enough to allow for clinical diagnostics."

 

Read more about the low-cost 3D printed retinal scanner at Duke University

 


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