The advanced imaging used to peer into the darkest corners of space has been adapted to help fight blindness. Using this tech, scientists have developed a prototype device that inspects the human retina for early signs of age-related sight loss. From deep space, to deeply within ourselves, man.
The technology behind the "Retinal Densitometer" was developed by researchers at Cardiff University and the UK Astronomy Technology Center. The name of the ailment it's looking for is called Age-Related Macular Degeneration, a common form of sight loss, which affects a small part of the retina on the back of the eye.
The disease can be difficult to detect until it's too late, which is precisely where deep space technology used to detect what we can just barely see comes in. You see, cutting edge astronomy tech can detect light billions of light years away. It turns out, this highly-sensitive imaging can also be used to detect the tiniest changes in the performance of macula, a 1.5mm spot on the back of the eye that contains the highest concentration of the eye's cone cells.
More specifically, The new device measures the way your retina reacts when it's exposed to bright light. Not only is the new technology more accurate at diagnosing disease in its earliest stages, it also has the advantage that it's non-invasive.
The next step for the Retinal Densitometer is a round of clinical testing, which, if successful, could result in space age technology being made available to specialists around the world. We're definitely gonna keep our eye on this one. [Cardiff University via The Engineer UK]