In its latest white paper, Phaseform discusses the use of Deformable Phase Plates (DPP), an innovative optofluidic microsystem technology, to improve ophthalmic imaging combining the advantages of deformable mirrors and transmissive liquid crystal spatial light modulators into compact and efficient AO systems.
The human eye, a marvel of evolution, is a multilayered structure of unique complexity. The retina, at the back of the eye, contains photoreceptor cells that initiate nerve impulses that travel to the brain to form visual images. Diseases of the human visual system often manifest as subtle changes in these retinal layers, making the eye not only a window to the world, but also to our health. Ophthalmoscopy, the technique of using high magnification optical imaging to visualize the retina and other elements, has some limitations due to inherent imperfections that cause optical aberrations in the human eye. Traditional ophthalmoscopes often struggle to resolve retinal features at the cellular level, limiting their effectiveness in the early detection of major eye diseases. To address these limitations, adaptive optics (AO) was introduced to ophthalmoscopy nearly three decades ago. Originally used in astronomical telescopes to compensate for atmospheric turbulence, this technology allowed researchers to observe cellular and subcellular structures of the retina in vivo for the first time.
However, conventional AO systems are often complex, large and expensive. This has slowed clinical adoption of AO and limited its use to large optical tables in research institutes. Phaseform aims to address this issue with its refractive AO solutions. Their approach simplifies the implementation of AO correction in ophthalmoscopes, making it more compact and cost-effective, which could accelerate its clinical adoption. In a recent study conducted with the Institut Langevin in Paris, Phaseform successfully retrofitted an existing research-grade ophthalmoscope with its DPP-enabled AO system. The retrofitted ophthalmoscope demonstrated improved single photoreceptor resolution and significantly improved signal-to-noise ratio.
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Phaseform's refractive AO technology has the potential to greatly enhance the capabilities of ophthalmic imaging while reducing the cost and complexity of AO systems. Their unique approach allows existing ophthalmoscopes to be retrofitted, increasing accessibility and providing more accurate insights into the structure and function of the human visual system. Their continued commitment to this research could lead to the development of more compact, affordable and universally accessible retinal imaging solutions.