A novel approach with optical coherence tomography (OCT) is providing new insights into how myopia affects the eye, according to progressive research out of Flinders University in South Australia.
The work, published in PLoS One, described the findings of the Flinders ophthalmology and medical device research institute experts who tested 70 volunteers.
“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,” said eye specialist Dr Stewart Lake, from Flinders University.
“This may help monitor, measure, and explore the effects of myopia and how it leads to vision loss,” he said, adding further development could make the system suitable for use in regular clinical practice.
Prior research elsewhere with MRI scanning has demonstrated 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. The OCT testing will be far cheaper, is more readily available and repeatable as a test, researchers say in the article.
Myopia (short or near-sightedness) is defined practically by the strength of lens required to correct eyesight. It was already known that myopia relates very strongly to the size/length of the eyeball.
Global estimates forecast up to five billion people will have myopia and one billion people could suffer with high myopia by 2050, placing a significant burden on health systems to manage and prevent myopia-related ocular complications and vision loss.
High myopia increases the risk of pathological ocular changes such as cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration – all of which cause irreversible vision loss.
S Lake, M Bottema, K Williams and K Reynolds. The correlation between optical coherence tomography retinal shape irregularity and axial length. PLoS One Vol 14, Iss 12 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227207