High Demand for Radiation-Free Ultrasound to Dominate Ophthalmic Ultrasound System Market’s Future
Ultrasound systems have become as indispensable in the field of ophthalmology as standard clinical assessment modalities such as slit lamp or indirect ophthalmoscopy, the standard means for evaluating the anterior segment of the retina. Ophthalmic ultrasound systems are an important candidate for imaging areas behind the retina and the iris, which even newer imaging techniques such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) cannot image.
In recent years, ophthalmic ultrasound systems have enjoyed an important role in the determination of the design of intraocular lenses and precise measurement of the anterior segment of the eye for a variety of refractive surgeries.
Early Problems for Ophthalmic Ultrasound Testing in the form of Incompatible Hardware
The first use of diagnostic ultrasound for assessing the eye was observed in 1956, when Mundt and Hughes used ultrasound for A-mode examination of patients with intraocular tumors and cases of in vitro enucleated eyes. A flurry of research and development activity followed, mostly in the U.S. and Europe, and ultrasound techniques for A-mode diagnosis, B-mode assessment, and biometry were soon developed.
Many early research activities also met with a lot of difficulties, such as the existing transducers being typically low-frequency and unfocused – not consistent with the required resolution for many ophthalmic fields of operation. Alignment and acoustic coupling with the eye requires careful attention, especially as minute mistakes in biometric measurements can lead to deformations. Thus, early ultrasound systems combined several techniques to form the final assessments: oscilloscopes were used for generating displays and photography was used for recording results, rulers were used to measure echo time intervals on the photographs, and biometric results were computed using the rulers. All this resulted in a lot of uncertainty in the results.
With time, however, the field of ophthalmic ultrasound systems has seen continuous improvement due to advancements in the field of imaging devices and other complementary instruments, particularly in the form of the introduction of high-frequency transducers.
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Currently, a variety of highly accurate ophthalmic ultrasound systems are available in the market. These systems fall into four categories: A-scan systems, B-scan systems, pachymeters, and ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM). A variety of ergonomic options in these systems are also available, such as portable, on platform, fixed, and handheld.
With the rising prevalence of eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataract, the demand for ophthalmic ultrasound systems has also increased in the past few years. The high demand for radiation-free ophthalmic imaging modalities is a key trend observed in the global ophthalmic ultrasound systems market.
According to the WHO, cataract was responsible for more than 50% cases of blindness across the globe in 2010. As the number of geriatrics increases across the globe, the prevalence of cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is expected to see a continuous rise in the coming years. This will provide significant growth prospects to the global ophthalmic ultrasound systems market. However, factors such as the high cost of these systems and high development cost owing to stringent government regulations influence the global market.
Global Ophthalmic Ultrasound Systems Market Highly Fragmented
The global ophthalmic ultrasound systems market is fragmented to a high degree and features a vast number of numerous established as well as emerging businesses. Some of the key businesses in this market include Optikon 2000 S.p.A., Ellex Medical Lasers Ltd., Optos plc, Sonomed Escalon, Quantel Medical, and Reichert, Inc.