For Love of a Son
The story behind Optos' Panoramic200.
Douglas Anderson of Dunfermline, Scotland, fondly remembers his son, Leif, as a child. "Apart from the fact that he was a high myope, he was an active, easygoing kid."
Because of Lief's myopia, Douglas and his wife, Andrea, made sure Leif received eye exams regularly.
"The exams," says Douglas, "were quite stressful on Leif. It was a major process. Fortunately, Leif was a very stoical child, very Scottish."
But in 1990, at the age of 5, Leif suffered a spontaneous retinal detachment that doctors didn't detect until too late to treat effectively. Consequently, he lost sight in one eye.
"Some time afterwards," says Douglas, "the doctor was doing a routine follow-up examination. He was trying to reassure me that all was well. At the same time, he conceded that he was getting only the most fleeting glaimpses of the periphery of Leif's retina, because Leif could neither hold his eye still nor effectively point it in the right direction. It was obvious that the examination was flawed. Plus, it could only be completed properly under general anesthesia.
"The doctor told me that what I was witnessing was state of the art. The examination seemed intrusive, crude and - most importantly - ineffective. The thought struck me that there was nothing to stop me from trying to provide a better solution."
Douglas soon put his company, Crombie Anderson Design Consultants, to work researching a device that was patient friendly and capable of producing a single, high-resolution, ultra-wide field image of the retina. The device would have to accomplish this through an undilated pupil.
Douglas says,"We intended to develop a product that was so easy to use that a 5-year-old could operate it."
The initial research took 3 years and three teams to complete. The first two teams were unable to come up with a solution, but this didn't discourage Douglas. "I'm a terminal optimist. I take down the wall brick by brick."
In 1994, his team began developing a prototype, called the Panoramic200 because the imaging system visualized 200 degrees of the retina.
Concurrently, Douglas formed a new company for the Panoramic200. His son Leif, 9 years old at the time, named the company after the Greek word for vision: Optos.
The Panoramic200 was granted FDA aproval in 1999.
Today, Leif is 17 years old. He's blind in the left eye and has partial vision loss in the right eye.
Today, doctors use the Optos Panoramic200 throughout the world. Since receiving its approval, millions of patients have been screened with the Optos Panoramic200; helping save the sight of numerous patients through early detection of many asymptomatic pathologies, including blood cancer, peripheral melanoma, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal holes and detachments.
"Bringing the Panoramic200 to the market is especially satisfying to me," says Douglas. "With the Panoramic200, my son Leif's detached retina might have been detected in time to properly treat. I'm thankful to be able to - hopefully - help other families avoid unnecessary and avoidable vision loss."