Astronomy Technology Used For Early Detection Of AMD – The Developed Worlds Leading Cause Of Sight Loss
Engineers used to designing state of the art instruments for ground and space based telescopes are now applying their expertise to the development of a diagnostic test for the developed world’s most common form of sight loss in adults, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
AMD leads to the loss of the vision used when looking at something directly ahead, at another person for example, or when reading or watching television. In the UK alone, by 2020 the number of AMD sufferers is expected to rise to 750,000 and currently more than 1% of over 60s suffer from some sort of AMD. In the US, there are more than 10 million already living with AMD –more than all cancers combined and twice as many as those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Engineers at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) normally design and make instruments to detect faint light from distant stars and galaxies. They are also currently collaborating with scientists from Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences to develop a unique instrument, a ‘retinal densitometer’, which can pick up the earliest stages of AMD by measuring, in the minutest of detail, how the eye responds to light.