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Digital Imaging, Databases, and Eye Care


Ryan McGrail is Lead Programmer for Retcam Software at Clarity Medical. He can be reached at rmcgrail@claritymsi.com.

Diagnosing and treating children who are at risk of going blind is tricky business. Doctors require exhaustive views of the inner eye and the utmost precision in record-keeping. Many doctors are still viewing patients' retinas through a magnifying glass (ophthalmoscope) and recording observations on paper using colored pencils. This antiquated approach, which relies on the physician's memory and subjective interpretation of hand-drawn pictures, is increasingly being replaced by the technologically superior technique of photographing and documenting patient pathologies with a specialized digital imaging system like the Retcam II.

What we've done in developing the Retcam II digital imaging system essentially brings about a 500-year leap in medical technology, "from charcoal to digital," if you will.

What Doctors Needed: Precision Images They Could Document and Share

We knew there was a critical need for a highly sophisticated system that would allow doctors to conduct an imaging session, and review the results side-by-side with historical trend data within seconds. This would be a priceless medical tool. The other important aspect was sharing; the state-of-the-art imaging unit would have to be self-contained and mobile, to be wheeled around the clinic or hospital, and would need to let physicians share still images, video clips, and other patient data. This way, doctors could easily send visual data to a colleague for consultation, even across geographies.

Our aim was to provide a host of new functions to make capturing and evaluating visual data far easier and more comprehensive than ever before:

  • Instant digital video clip capture (up to 20 seconds of full resolution real-time video).
  • Instant digital image capture.
  • Multi-image data recall and display.
  • Side-by-side image comparison.

This system would have to rely on a comprehensive database that would keep track of all digitally recorded images and facilitate transferring them via LAN or Internet. No small order.


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