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Optos plc Chief Executive Douglas Anderson on is new eye device
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Monday, 16 August, 1999, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Son's eye battle inspires innovation
Eye test
Optos believes the device could revolutionise high street tests
A Scots businessman whose son lost his sight in one eye has produced a new imaging device which he hopes will save future generations from a similar fate.

The development marks a personal triumph for Optos chief executive Douglas Anderson, who embarked on the project after his son was left blind in one eye because a retinal problem was detected too late.

The Dunfermline-based company recently sold its first Panoramic 200 - the world's first opthalmic device which can produce a single, high resolution, colour image of the retina.

Optos believes the product could revolutionise eye tests and lead to the earlier detection of eye diseases such as glaucoma.

Eye test
Conventional eye tests can be time consuming
Current conventional imaging techniques used by high street optometrists in eye tests cannot capture an image of the retina and are time consuming.

The new device uses low powered laser beams which are scanned in two dimensions over the entire retina.

Light reflected from the retina is detected and transformed into a digital image which appears, almost immediately, on the screen of a conventional monitor.

Mr Anderson's interest in this field began in 1990, when his five-year-old son lost the sight of one eye after a massive retinal detachment.

During a long and successful battle to save his son's remaining eye, Mr Anderson - an industrial designer by trade - used his skills to develop a device which could improve detection.

Clinical trials

After six years of research and development, the Panoramic 200 has been granted US Food and Drug Agency approval and has undergone clinical trials in both the UK and the US.

Already more than 1,100 US optometrists and opthalmologists have expressed an interest in the new technology.

The company has now opened a new sales and marketing, service and support office in Boston, Massachusetts. Optos now employs 40 full time staff including design engineers, production and training staff.

Mr Anderson believes the Panoramic 200 could revolutionise primary eye care and lead to a significant increase in eye disease detection rates.

'Ground breaking

He said: "We believe we have a ground breaking new product in terms of the effect it will have on the way early stage eye disease is detected and managed.

"We hope the ease with which the new system can detect retinal disease at an early stage will mean that vision loss is reduced and any intervention is less traumatic.

"Therefore the cost to the taxpayer in terms of eye care would be significantly lower."

The industry body, the Scottish Optoelectronics Association (SOA), welcomed the introduction of the new device.

SOA chief executive Chris Gracie said: "Mr Anderson's is a truly remarkable story.

"It behoves us all to encourage Scottish-based companies such as Optos to continue their development and achieve their share of a worldwide optoelectronics industry which, experts predict, will quadruple over the next 10 years," he added.

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