All eyes on…

July 1, 2008
Optical coherence tomography (OCT), the noninvasive, noncontact, and radiation-safe micron-scale imaging technique that has been commercialized only recently, is hot—in terms of both interest and development.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT), the noninvasive, noncontact, and radiation-safe micron-scale imaging technique that has been commercialized only recently, is hot—in terms of both interest and development. Participants in a webcast called Practical Applications of OCT—held June 25 and available now online at—heard from some of the key pioneers in this field.

The webcast discussion covered important applications. For instance, Dr. Joseph Izatt discussed its operation and implications for small-animal imaging, while Dr. Stephen Boppart illustrated its use for diagnosing and treating breast cancer. But no discussion of OCT would be complete without mention of of ophthalmology, its first application to be substantively commercialized. And Dr. Sanjay Asrani of the Duke Eye Institute described its impact for early detection and treatment of eye disease.

Questions from the audience covered a range of issues (including desire for a list of companies developing OCT systems, which is available in the report Optical Coherence Tomography: Technology, Markets and Applications; see

Another technology for eye maladies—LASIK—has been the subject of much attention following a recent FDA investigation. The laser-based technology has helped untold scores of people, but given the adverse effects suffered by a small percentage of patients, it’s heartening to know about constructive measures to deal with the risks.

BioOptics World previously reported on the post-LASIK quality-of-life study initiated by the Joint LASIK Study Task Force, which also includes the FDA, the National Eye Institute, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery’s (ASCRS), and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Daniel Schultz, head of the FDA’s medical-devices center, has said that identifying why complications occurred would help those considering LASIK make more educated choices. “Clearly there is a group that are’t satisfied and don’t get the results that they expect,” he stated, according to an article by Bloomberg. Studying these patients is “very, very high on the agency’s priority list.” Meanwhile, FDA advisers recommended revising the discussion of LASIK on the agency’s Web site to make clear the risks, and suggested similarly rewording brochures given to patient-candidates.

The controversy has touched service providers such as Cincinnati-based LCA-Vision, whose June 25 announcement of declining procedure volume caused its stock price to plummet. LCA-Vision expects procedure volume for the second quarter to be down 40 percent year over year. Still, the company said it is continuing to open new LasikPlus vision centers, with six scheduled for 2008, and to deploy IntraLase devices in all of its centers.

About the Author

Barbara Gefvert | Editor-in-Chief, BioOptics World (2008-2020)

Barbara G. Gefvert has been a science and technology editor and writer since 1987, and served as editor in chief on multiple publications, including Sensors magazine for nearly a decade.

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