Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a high-resolution live imaging technique that can be used for early detection of retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetes-related conditions, glaucoma, or vascular occlusions. In order to obtain cellular resolution of the retina, and even better results, it has so far been necessary to use expensive adaptive lenses to correct the image aberrations that occur. Using a new technique called Line Field OCT (LF-OCT), researchers have simplified how to look into the cellular processes in the eye to allow even more accurate diagnosis.
OCT works in a similar way to ultrasound scanning, but is noncontact and uses light, producing high-resolution cross-sectional images of biological tissue. This method is also known as “optical biopsy.” The new LF-OCT technology enables digital corrections to be made without the need for expensive hardware-based adaptive lenses. The linear illumination that is used allows very rapid frame rates, which enables correction of aberrations over the entire 3D volume of the retina.
Linear illumination functions a bit like a scanner; a strip of light “scans” the eye, allowing better images to be produced. In this way, it is possible to resolve individual photoreceptors, capillary blood vessels, and individual nerve fibers in the same image. It is also possible to refocus, realign, and digitally process the image data obtained to provide the doctor with the best possible results for diagnostic purposes.
OCT is currently also being used in dermatology for the early detection of skin cancers; however, the technique could also help improve diagnostic accuracy in general.