A team from Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, and Medical Laser Center in Lübeck, Germany, has developed a potential hand-held OCT device for home-monitoring of patients with retinal disease, including aged macular degeneration.

It’s early days yet, and the developers have had to make some compromises on image quality – the result is off-axis full-field time-domain OCT focused on reducing the scan area to 3 x 3 mm and using a full-field system which illuminates the whole field.

The 3 x 3 images provide good sensitivity and specificity for monitoring sub-retinal and intraretinal fluid volume, and the full-field approach increases visual quality.

The design is simple, needing only a standard light source – rather than swept-source – and a regular, low-cost USB camera.

Though the team is still in the research phase, they have tested their device – alongside spectral-domain (SD)-OCT – in 10 patients with retinal disease (including AMD and retinal vein occlusion), and have shown that it can acquire clinically-useful images.

The team says that even though the image quality is not quite as good as clinical OCT systems, the sub-retinal fluid does demark very well and the need for re-treatment is apparent.

It is planned to continue developing the device and to study its imaging capabilities in more patients by asking clinicians to grade both full-field OCT and SD-OCT images (while being masked), and compare their image quality, which biomarkers are present, and whether the patient needs anti-VEGF retreatment.