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CHEO reveals advanced scanning equipment to diagnose children's eye diseases

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A new piece of equipment at the ophthalmology clinic at CHEO is allowing children to take a non-invasive eye test, all without ever needing to leave the hospital.

As a follow-up after an eye surgery, 7-year-old Aurelia is at CHEO to check her eyes.

"Check to make sure they're healthy," she told CTV News Ottawa.

Aurelia is having a non-invasive imaging test using a new optical coherence tomography (OCT) machine.

"It’s gonna scan my eye," she said.

The scan takes about a minute and doesn’t hurt.

"I saw there was like orange, blue and an X," explained Aurelia.

The OCT machine allows ophthalmologists to see each of the retina’s distinctive layers, then map and measure their thickness to help diagnose eye diseases.

"It helps us to explain why vision may not be as good in certain kids because sometimes, they can't necessarily put their finger on what it is in their vision that they have trouble with. Sometimes it helps us to see disease evolving and to prevent complications," said Dr. Annick Fournier, the site chief of the ophthalmology clinic and clinical investigator at the CHEO Research Institute.

It's thanks to donors that CHEO was able to purchase the new OCT machine.

"Before this machine came, we would have to refer to the Eye Institute, where they have this instrument for adults. Now, we can do all of the testing here at no cost to families," said Fournier.

According to CHEO, OCT uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of the retina.

CHEO says having this machine increases the number of patients who can be seen in its busy ophthalmology clinic, ensuring diagnoses are made in a timelier manner and giving children and youth access to the care they need.

"People are so nice, especially the nurses," said Aurelia.

"This place actually holds a really special place in my heart," said Aurelia’s mother, Candice Luttmer.

"I had the same surgery as my daughter when she when I was her age. Both eyes, actually. So for me, I wasn't nervous at all. I knew that she was in really good hands.”

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