Spectra Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) using partially coherent light is an emerging medical imaging technique that has found many clinical applications in ophthalmology.
One of the primary attributes of this technique is the high resolution of the images obtained, which means that in some applications OCT remains the only technique capable of visualizing clinically relevant structures. This is the case for the posterior pole of the human eyeball. Here the most important organ is the retina, which consists of many thin and translucent cell layers.
With OCT optical tomography it becomes possible to obtain images of retinal cross sections with a resolution of the order of micrometers (tenths of a hair’s thickness!), enabling detailed analysis of all relevant retinal layers.
Spectral optical tomography OCT allows to combine high resolution with high speed of data registration, which enables reconstruction of three-dimensional structure of retina. The obtained images can be analyzed automatically by a computer and thus it becomes possible to objectively assess the progress of retinal lesions occurring in such diseases as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, macular holes, retinal detachments, pre-retinal membranes and many others.
The world’s first prototype device for obtaining intravital cross-sectional images of the anterior and posterior chamber of the eye using the Spectral OCT method was designed and built in the Medical Physics Group of the Institute of Physics at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.
CT images of the retina of a healthy human eye obtained with this instrument were published by this research group in 2002. The first images of cross sections of eyes with lesions were obtained in the Department of Eye Diseases of the Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz in application to the diagnosis of pathology of the anterior and posterior segment of the eye.
Just four years after the first report on the possible application of spectral OCT tomography for imaging, this technology was transferred to ophthalmic practice. This was made possible by the introduction of the first device of this type, the SOCT Copernicus.