What is a RetCam and why is it so Important?

At the present time the Hull & East Yorkshire Eye Hospital does not have a Retcam camera. Any child needing retinal eye examinations would need to be sent to another part of the country for this to be carried out. This should just not happen in a large modern hospital covering an area of more than 1.2 million people.

A RetCam is a brilliant piece of technology that allows high definition, wide field, colour images to be captured of the backs of infants eyes which can be viewed by Ophthalmologists for immediate diagnosis.

A RetCam has many uses and can be used for numerous ocular conditions in children as detailed below.

RetCam in the Intensive Care Nursery:-  Imaging premature babies for Ophthalmologist evaluation of ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity). This problem occurs in some babies after a premature birth where the blood vessels on the retina start to grow abnormally. This fast developing condition can lead to blindness very quickly and needs to be monitored frequently. A RetCam is ideal for this purpose. 60,000 premature babies are born in the UK every year and this figure is growing. 60% of premature babies with a birth weight of less than 1251 grams will suffer some form of ROP and would need eye examinations.

RetCam in the new-born nursery:-  Imaging of full-term babies for Ophthalmologist evaluation of paediatric ocular diseases in order to establish a baseline for future eye health. A Retcam is useful to compare past and present images to see how a condition is changing over time.

RetCam in the Operating Theatre:-  Imaging babies and children for Ophthalmologist evaluation. Imaging of children who undergo examinations under anaesthesia. Early detection of eye cancers (Retinoblastoma) and “shaken baby” syndrome.

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer. It most commonly affects children under the age of 5. Between 40 and 50 children develop this type of tumour each year in the UK. Although this can be very distressing and frightening for the child and their parents, more than 9 out of 10 children (90%) are cured.

However, as with all cancers, early detection and treatment is vital to increase survival rates and a RetCam in Hull would help here. Although any child diagnosed with this condition in Hull would usually be seen by a specialist centre elsewhere, quick and definitive diagnosis would certainly benefit the patient. A Retcam in Hull would facilitate this.

Shaken baby syndrome can affect the retinas on the backs of infants eyes through violent shaking and cause detachments, retinal bleeding and blindness. Being able to view the condition of infants retinas with a RetCam helps diagnose this problem and aids treatment.

RetCam in the Clinic:-  Imaging provides information that can be shared with parents to help them better understand the Ophthalmologist evaluation. If a difficult decision has to be made by parents, showing them images of the problem can help ease making that decision. Personal experience has proved how important a Retcam is in this respect.

RetCam delivers objective, interpretable detail and allows image comparison over time. This helps consultants evaluate effectiveness of treatment and can show whether treatment is working or not. Once again, personal experience here establishes that a RetCam is absolutely critical here.

Enables remote consultations and facilitates a convenient method for second opinions. Serves as an effective educational tool for staff. Images can be sent electronically all over the country for evaluation by specialist Ophthalmologists leading to faster treatment and better outcomes.

RetCam can be used as a standalone system or it can be set up as a network with RetCam Review Software.

How the RetCam benefits the Ophthalmologists:-  Significantly greater field of view with images captured by the RetCam compared to handheld, binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy.

Effective for consultations/second opinions.

Accuracy in precise location and structure of details .

Avoids reliance on “human” memory.

Fluorescein Angiography Capability (FA). This is where a fluorescent dye can be injected into the infants bloodstream and any leakage or abnormality ‘glows’ in the RetCam image (see black and white images below).


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