26 Jan 2024



ReD (Retinal Densitometer) uses astronomy technology to help detect sight loss.




Scientists from the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at a Cardiff University collaborated with engineers from UK ATC to develop a Retinal Densitometer (ReD), an instrument aimed at detecting Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

AMD affects the macula at the back of the eye, leading to vision loss. It is the world’s leading cause of sight loss in the over 50s. ​Early diagnosis is the one of the most crucial factors for developing new treatments and improving the management of this disease.

ReD utilises a combination of optical and astronomy technology to measure changes in light-sensitive pigments in the macula after exposure to light, offering a non-invasive method for early AMD detection.

Applying our knowledge of optical systems which are usually used in astronomy (to detect faint light from distant stars and galaxies) we built an optical system that can accurately measure faint changes in light emitted from the eye.​

Unlike existing techniques, the instrument's ability to measure responses from different parts of the retina enhances its accuracy. Early tests on patients with early-stage AMD demonstrated the technology's accuracy, paving the way for clinical testing and potential commercialisation.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research's Invention for Innovation program and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the collaboration showcases the positive impact of combining expertise in astronomy technology and vision science.