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Healthcare & Medicine

Medical equipment uses optics and photonics to improve and save lives. Optical techniques are the basis of LASIK corrective eye surgery and intraocular lenses to treat cataracts. Ophthalmic equipment, such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) help diagnose and detect glaucoma and other eye diseases in their earliest stages, and is expanding into use for cardiology and other areas. Mammography and CAT scans, as well as MRI and PET scans, are based on optics.

The relationship between photonics and medicine goes far beyond medical imaging technologies, however. Photonics-based methods are helping to meet the increasing worldwide demand for rapid, accurate, personalized, and cost-effective healthcare interventions.

Additional applications for photonics in healthcare include the selection and optimization of image sensors for medical imaging applications, fluorescence and spectral methods for image-guided surgery, fiber-based solutions for medical imaging, the use of acousto-optic elements for advanced microscopy, and the manufacturing of cell-based therapies.

Since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic began, biophotonics researchers have ramped up their efforts to enlist their cutting-edge technologies against the disease and the virus that causes it. These efforts have addressed the need for rapid and accurate testing of COVID-19 patients and potential patients, vaccine development, as well as contact tracing methods.