Thursday, May 24, 2007

Scanning My Eyes

Last week I made the trek to downtown Ottawa for the very special purpose of scanning my eyes. A few dollars for parking, forty for the scan, and a few minutes of my time was all it took to get a detailed (and colorful) map of my corneas:



The reason for getting the scan is that I have keratoconus, a "degenerative non-inflammatory disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve." With exact information on the current shape of my cornea, I may be able to get hard contacts that fit better and are therefore more comfortable.

So what does this have to do with computer science, you ask? I'm glad you did! I'm interested in studying visual computing for my upcoming masters degree in computer science. By this I mean computer vision, computational geometry, and graphics. As it turns out, medical imaging is a major application of computer vision:
As a technological discipline, computer vision seeks to apply the theories and models of computer vision to the construction of computer vision systems. Examples of applications of computer vision systems include systems for ... modeling objects or environments (e.g. industrial inspection, medical image analysis or topographical modeling).
Take the example of creating a better fitting contact lens. Now, I cannot claim that I know exactly how they do this, but let's imagine it: the sensors collect thousands of points of data that should indicate the 3D shape of my cornea. These points can be reconstructed and then used to machine a matching lens. Now my lenses will sit on the proper part of my eye and not move around, irritating it. Sounds like a good deal to me!

There is a pretty good description of the machine that took the scan on this Strong Health website if you want to know more.

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