'ReD letter day' at the UK ATC

25th November 2014

Retinal Desitometer Logo

November 25th  marked the shipping of the UK ATC developed Retinal Densiometer prototype (ReD) to Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. The device is designed to help diagnose Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of sight loss in adults living in the developed world. Once at Cardiff the prototype will undergo more realistic engineering tests involving human volunteers before further versions are deployed for clinical trials.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) leads to the loss of vision when looking at something directly ahead, at another person for example, or when reading or watching television. In the UK alone, by 2020 the number of AMD sufferers is expected to rise to 750,000 and currently more than 1% of over 60s suffer from some sort of AMD. In the US, there are more than 10 million already living with AMD –more than all cancers combined and twice as many as those with Alzheimer's disease.

AMD affects a small part of the retina at the back of the eye, the macula, which is used to see detail and colour. One of the earliest signs of AMD is a change in the way that the light sensitive pigments in the macula regenerate after exposure to light.  Engineers at the UK ATC, who normally design and make instruments to detect faint light from distant stars and galaxies, are collaborating with scientists from Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences to develop the densitometer, which can pick up the earliest stages of AMD by monitoring, in the minuteness of detail, how the eye responds after exposure to light. It does this by measuring the very small changes over time in the amount of light reflected by the retina.

The project has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme and also by STFC, through its Commercial Proof of Concept Fund. STFC was also responsible for initially identifying the need for, and setting up, the collaboration between Cardiff University and STFC.



The Retinal Densitometer Team

Image 1:

Dave Melotte leads the team as the Retinal Densitometer is shipped.

Credit: Jason Cowan, UK ATC, Royal Observatory Edinburgh