Optical coherence tomography in ophthalmology

Diagnostic imaging technology taking hold in ophthalmology and other clinical applications…

(Below is an excerpt from spin-off analysis from the MedMarket Diligence report #G125, "Ophthalmology Worldwide: Products, Technologies, Markets and Opportunities in Ophthalmology Surgical, Diagnostic, Device and Drug Markets Worldwide, Forecasts 2004 – 2012."  This spin-off analysis is provided as a deliverable when purchasing the complete report #G125.)

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a diagnostic imaging technology with potential applications in several medical specialties. Because early efforts to design OCT devices were tailored to ophthalmic diagnosis and therapy, these devices represent some of the most advanced OCT hardware and software systems available. 

The first company to develop OCT technology for ophthalmic applications was Advanced Ophthalmic Devices (AOD), which licensed the technology in 1992 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1993, Humphrey Instruments (now owned by Carl Zeiss Meditec) acquired AOD and continued development of time domain–based OCT technology. Stratus, a third-generation time-domain OCT retinal scanner, was introduced in 2002 by Zeiss and by 2006, roughly 6,000 systems had been sold.

In 2006, Optovue released the first FDA-approved Fourier-domain OCT (FD-OCT) device. The company’s RTVue possessed the benefits of being 65 times faster than Stratus while also providing at least two times the resolution. Further, the high speed of FD-OCT allowed 3D technology to be developed. The advent of FD-OCT brought the technology to a point where commercialization became a viable feasibility, and such companies as Optovue, Topcon, Heidelberg Engineering, Bioptigen, OPKO (formerly Ophthalmic Technologies Inc.), Tomey, and Optopol Technology joined Zeiss in the marketing of OCT devices for ophthalmology.

FD-OCT can be based on spectrometer or tunable laser technologies. Spectrometer-based OCT is also known as spectral-domain OCT (SD-OCT), spectral OCT (SOCT) or frequency-domain OCT (FD-OCT). Tunable laser-based OCT is sometimes referred to as swept-source OCT (SS-OCT) or optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI). For marketing purposes, the terms High-definition OCT and 3D OCT are often used.

With the ability to obtain live, very high-resolution images of internal tissues and organs without patient preparation and without the use of radiation technology, OCT devices have now become an integral part in the treatment and diagnosis of retinal diseases, including glaucoma. 

Market Trends and Forecasts

With the FDA market clearance and subsequent U.S. launch of FD-OCT systems in 2006, the market underwent a period of rapid growth with rates in excess of 30%. However, the economic slowdown is now having an impact on these growth rates, producing a slowing trend that is expected to extend at least through the next two or three years. While there exists some uncertainty as to the future state of the U.S. health care system in the next few years, growth in the market for ophthalmic OCT systems should nonetheless pick up once again. This is because the long-term fallout from an ailing U.S. economy should at least be partially balanced by an aging population, which translates into increasing populations of patients needing treatment for ocular diseases. In this regard, OCT systems for ophthalmic applications stand to fare well in the marketplace due to the fact that they provide an entirely new type of analysis that can outperform other types of diagnostic testing. 

Select companies involved in OCT for ophthalmic diagnostics: Bioptigen, Inc., Carl Zeiss Meditec AG, Heidelberg Engineering, OPKO (Ophthalmic Technologies, Inc.), Optopol Technology S.A., Optovue, Inc., Tomey Corp., and Topcon Medical Systems.

See report #G125 and spin-off analysis on OCT

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