Article Date: 6/1/2004

Designing Early Detection ...for a New Standard of Care
Here's how one man's personal experience motivated him to develop a revolutionary diagnostic tool.

Douglas Anderson, Inventor of the Optomap Retinal Exam

Imagine you have a 5-year-old son who has a history of vision problems. You do everything you can, taking him to doctors where he repeatedly undergoes uncomfortable fundus examinations. And then, an undetected retinal detachment steals his vision in one eye. What do you do?

If it's 1991 and you're Douglas Anderson, an industrial engineer who heads Crombie Anderson Design Consultants in Dumfernline Scotland, you invent a revolutionary device that captures nonmydriatic ultra widefield images of the retina in a simple and child (patient) friendly way.

"Douglas recognized that retinal examinations can be very difficult, requiring a lot of skill and patient cooperation," says Ian Stevens, general manager of Optos North America. "Unlike many inventors who build products and then search for applications, Douglas saw a specific problem and set out to solve it."

The result: A retinal imaging system that's quick, easy to use and, above all, patient-friendly.

Designing Optomap Technology

The Optos Panoramic200 began with an idea and some very courageous investors. By 1993, Anderson had the funds to put together his first design team. Two years and two design teams later, he finally hit upon the heart of Optomap technology -- an elliptical mirror.

The Optomap® Retinal Exam is a true scanning laser ophthalmoscope. Laser energy bounces off the patented elliptical mirror, enters the eye and returns to the scanner via the same pathway. Sophisticated software interprets the data, producing a high-resolution, ultra widefield, color Optomap image that captures 200° of the fundus in 0.25 seconds. "It's a very elegant design because it's so simple," says Stevens.

Warm Welcome

In September 2003, The Sunday Times (London) ARM TechTrack 100 named Optos the fastest growing technology company in the United Kingdom. "We're first by virtue of our sales in the United States, which account for 95% of our total business," says Stevens. "Once we hit on the right design, we immediately began production on a prototype and sought approval from the FDA. By 1999, we had early working products in the U.S. marketplace."

Since the Optomap exam became commercially available in 2001, Optos has enjoyed increasingly wide acceptance among eyecare professionals. About 900 practices in the United States have embraced the technology.

Ian Stevens, General Manager, Optos North America

The Optomap Service

Why have eyecare professionals been so quick to embrace Optomap technology? Clinically, the Optomap exam benefits eyecare professionals and their patients by detecting retinal pathology that otherwise may go undetected. Unlike traditional fundus cameras, which capture 45° of the retina at most, an Optomap shows the peripheral fundus, where retinal tears and other defects often appear.

"I think the Optomap adds another dimension to eyecare," says Stevens. "When practitioners use an Optomap image to educate their patients about their retinas, they're realizing Douglas Anderson's vision of the Optomap exam as technology that can prevent avoidable vision loss."

Future Directions

What does the future hold for Optos and the Optomap exam? "The FDA is about to review our proposal to combine ultra widefield imaging with traditional fluorescein imaging to diagnose and track retinal pathologies such as diabetic retinopathy," says Stevens.

"Major advances in Optomap V2 software allow our users to automatically subscribe data on the prevalence and incidence of a wide range of diseases to our host computer," he continues. Stevens sees this data bank as a major opportunity to collate, interpret and cross-share clinical data among users.

"We hope we can ultimately improve our chances to flag at-risk patients early and improve treatment protocols and outcomes," says Stevens. "Beyond that, we'd like to expand our core technology to include quantitative applications that could automatically note the rate of change of specific diseases, for instance, diabetic retinopathy."

Until then, Optos will continue to concentrate on its basic mission: Detecting retinal disease and pathology with nonmydriatic, high-resolution ultra widefield images.


Thanks to an engineer with a personal commitment, eyecare professionals have a whole new way to look at the retina -- the Optomap® Retinal Exam.

When it comes to detecting retinal pathology, more information is better -- and the Optomap Retinal Exam gives you that extra diagnostic edge.

The Optomap imaging system.

The Optomap Retinal Exam

With Optomap technology, collecting clear, nonmydriatic, ultra widefield digital images is as simple as having your patient look through a porthole. One-quarter of a second later, you're viewing a high-resolution digital image of your patient's retina on your PC.

Every Optomap image captures 200° of the fundus, giving you the opportunity to really examine the peripheral retina. Advanced V2 software lets you zoom in on high-risk areas, such as the optic disc and the macula, while maintaining excellent image quality.

What's more, Optomap technology easily stores and retrieves digital images, making it an ideal tool for tracking retinal changes from exam to exam and educating your patients about the importance of retinal health.

As an Optomap provider, you can offer your patients a consistent standard of care. Routine examination with Optomap technology increases your chances of detecting retinal pathology that may otherwise be missed.

Separating Layers

One unique feature of the Optomap exam is its dual laser scanning system. You can view a composite color image or take advantage of the green and red scanning lasers to view grayscale images of different retinal layers.

The green laser scans structures anterior to the pigment epithelial layer and can detect vision-threatening pathologies, such as hemorrhages or occlusions. The red laser scans deeper retinal layers, showing structures posterior to the pigment epithelial layers.


These Optomap images show widespread diabetic retinopathy; notice how the grayscale green laser separation highlights the hemorrhages to better visualize the disease.

Joining Forces

When you integrate Optomap technology into your practice, you get more than a state-of-the-art fundus imaging system. You also get a partner. The Optos Access Technology NOW™ program not only offers initial staff training and instruction, but also provides the resources you need to raise and sustain the standard of care you deliver to your patients. Optos will educate all members of your practice staff, and show them how to use the Optomap for the maximum benefit of your patients and your practice. Optos is committed to retraining replacement operators, improving patient understanding and acceptance and helping clinicians advance their diagnostic skills.

To find out more about the Optomap Retinal Exam, contact an Optos representative at 866-OPTOMAP or log on to



Optos North America
199 Forest Street
Marlborough, MA 01752

FAX: 508.486.9310


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2004