Physics World Digest August 2004: Eye surgery sharpens up

Eye surgery sharpens up

Physicists have devised a new way to map the cornea that could improve the accuracy of laser eye surgery. The shape and thickness of the cornea are vital pieces of information for surgeons, who need to alter permanently this transparent membrane to ensure that light is sharply focused on the retina. The information is currently obtained by reflecting a narrow strip of light that is shone into the patient's eye. The new technique, developed by Jos Almeida, Sandra Franco and colleagues at the University of Minho in Portugal, uses two fixed CCD cameras to collect the reflected light, rather than using a single fixed or rotating camera. The researchers claim that their technique can measure the thickness of the cornea along any axis and should eventually be able to map the cornea over 100 times faster than conventional methods. The speed of corneal scans is crucial because the eye makes rapid, involuntary movements that can lead to inaccuracies in the measurements if it is not measured quickly enough.
Contact: Sandra Franco, Department of Physics, University of Minho, Portugal (tel. +35 1253 604067; fax +35 1253 678981; e-mail sfranceo@fisica.uminho.pt)

The future of nanotechnology

Following last week's report from the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering into nanotechnology, Physics World publishes the views of two physicists on the subject. John Ryan from Oxford University who was a member of the panel that wrote the report insists that physicists must do a much better job in communicating their work to the public. He also calls on the government to make the science minister a full member of the cabinet. Meanwhile, Richard Jones from Sheffield University author of the new popular-science book Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life examines what we really mean by "nanotechnology" and describes how "radical nanotechnology" aims to create

Contact: David Reid
Institute of Physics

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