Skip to main content
  • News in Review

    Handheld SD-OCT Validated in Infants

    Pediatric Ophth/Strabismus

    Download PDF

    Handheld optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a useful tool for imaging retinal thickness in infants. But is it a reliable one?

    Researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, found that measurements taken with a handheld spectral-domain OCT (SD-OCT) system match the reproducibility and reliability of those taken with tabletop SD-OCT machines.1 “We are happily surprised by this finding. We were actually expecting less reproducibility with handheld OCTs,” said Xi Chen, MD, PhD. She added, “Many factors could affect measurements in handheld OCT, including—but not limited to—alignment, hand motion, and infant eye movement.” However, those problems did not arise.

    Handheld versus tabletop. For this retrospective review, the researchers included 21 unsedated preterm infants whose foveas were imaged with the handheld device (Envisu C2300, Leica/Bioptigen). Those results were com­pared to 25 adults scanned with table­top SD-OCT (Leica/Bioptigen).

    Central foveal thickness (CFT) measurements were analyzed by both an expert grader and a typical grader (defined as one who was certified but had less experience).

    Agreement with some variation. There was excellent agreement between expert and typical graders on measure­ments from either imaging system. The graders did, however, find a greater range in infant CFT measurements compared with adults. This was expect­ed because of foveal changes during development. In premature infants, the fovea is shallow, the retinal layers are thin, and there is a lack of photorecep­tor sublayers. As the fovea matures, it deepens and the retinal layers thicken. Despite these distinctions in the devel­oping eye, it was notable how repro­ducible CFT measurements were, Dr. Chen said.

    Multiple applications. The results have implications for clinical use as well as for studies, particularly when evaluating infants, uncooperative children, and bed­ridden adults.

    At Duke, pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatric retina specialists have become more reliant on handheld SD-OCT to evaluate the retina and optic nerve in infants and young children, both in the clinic and the OR.

    On another front, a prospective study is underway comparing handheld and tabletop instruments in healthy adult volunteers. Handheld instru­ments could be used in adults who are bedbound or in the ICU as well as in those who otherwise cannot cooperate or follow instructions.

    Regarding the current study, Dr. Chen said, “Although it was limited by its retrospective nature, it provided promising results and paved the foun­dation for future studies evaluating the infant retina.”

    —Miriam Karmel


    1 Wang KL et al. PLoS One. Published online Dec. 11, 2019.


    Relevant financial disclosures—Dr. Chen: None.

    For full disclosures and the disclosure key, see below.

    Full Financial Disclosures

    Dr. Chen Research related to this study was funded by a career development award from Research to Pre­vent Blindness and by the NEI.

    Dr. Humayun Allergan: C,L; Duke Eye Center: P; Eyemedix: C,O,P,S; Iridex: P; Johns Hopkins University: P; Lu­tronic Vision: C,O; MTTR: C,O; Outlook Therapeutics: C; Regenerative Patch Technologies: C,O,P; Replenish: C,O,P; Santen: C,L; Second Sight Medical Products: O,P; USC: E,P.

    Dr. Morley None.

    Dr. Rose-Nussbaumer None.

    Disclosure Category



    Consultant/Advisor C Consultant fee, paid advisory boards, or fees for attending a meeting.
    Employee E Employed by a commercial company.
    Speakers bureau L Lecture fees or honoraria, travel fees or reimbursements when speaking at the invitation of a commercial company.
    Equity owner O Equity ownership/stock options in publicly or privately traded firms, excluding mutual funds.
    Patents/Royalty P Patents and/or royalties for intellectual property.
    Grant support S Grant support or other financial support to the investigator from all sources, including research support from government agencies (e.g., NIH), foundations, device manufacturers, and/or pharmaceutical companies.


    More from this month’s News in Review