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Aussie researchers uncover faster, cheaper test for myopia

South Australian researchers have developed a new method to assess myopia using optical coherence tomography (OCT).

The recent study from Flinders University ophthalmology and medical device researchers aimed to describe the retinal contour in OCT images and report the relationship between retinal contour and axial length. The work involved the testing of 70 volunteers.

It is hoped the study might lead to a myopia monitoring procedure that is cheaper and faster than the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With OCT being more frequent in optometric and ophthalmic practices, the researchers also believe it will be a more readily available and repeatable test for myopia.

“Our work uses the OCT and finds irregularities at this scale that correlate with the size of the eye, and therefore the degree of myopia,” eye specialist Dr Stewart Lake, from Flinders University, said.

“This may help monitor, measure, and explore the effects of myopia and how it leads to vision loss,” he said, adding that further development could make the system suitable for use in regular clinical practice.

According to the study, prior research elsewhere with MRI scanning has identified large scale irregularities in the eyeball in highly myopic eyes. OCT can sample the shape of the eye on a much smaller scale than MRI.

In their study, the researchers stated that awareness of the reliability and usefulness of OCT, combined with the volume of information within OCT images, has led to the development of multiple tools to guide disease management.

However, little quantitative analysis has been undertaken on the shape of the retinal contour. Shape is known to affect retinal diseases including myopic traction maculopathy, dome shaped maculopathy, and degenerative myopic retinopathy.

The study concluded that retinal OCT shape becomes increasingly irregular as axial length increases. The range of curvature correlates with axial length, while median curvature does not.

The research article: The correlation between optical coherence tomography retinal shape irregularity and axial length was recently published in the journal Plos One.