I have always been blessed with good eyesight and so wasn’t too concerned when I had an upcoming appointment for a routine eye test. However, this check-up was different. My optician had invested in an enhanced retinal camera with higher resolution and sensitivity which allowed him to detect a small retinal hole.
The next day, I was advised to make my way directly to the eye clinic at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. After a couple of examinations, I was told that the hole in my retina had been there for a long time and, despite being asymptomatic, could potentially become a tear. After a discussion with the consultant, it was recommended that I get immediate laser surgery. I am always curious about the inner workings of devices. So out of curiosity, I asked the doctor some technical questions. I was told that the laser was 600mW with a spot size of 200 micron. I calculated this to be 19 million watts per square metre, an eye watering power density albeit for a short 100 milliseconds or so.
As Head of Electronics Engineering at Team Consulting, it was a real change of perspective to be on the receiving end of a medical device. I was impressed by the retinal camera with its wonderful resolution and image storage capability but also by the human/computer interface on the laser which inherently prevents set-up errors. I was also grateful for the work of the laser design team who ensured that the laser power of 600mW was just what the doctor ordered.
Without the technical capability of these devices, the dedication of the optician to spot the problem and the diligence of the clinic’s staff to assess and intervene with the right treatment, my eyesight may have been changed forever. After experiencing the work of the retinal camera and laser first-hand, it is evident that cutting corners is never the way to go.
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