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The Medical University of Vienna is heading a European research project, in which engineers and scientists are developing a handheld device for mobile ophthalmic care based on low-cost and miniaturized photonic chip technology. The novel photonic integrated technology is expected to bring Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) from stationary clinical use to broader, mobile use in ophthalmic care. 

Over the next five years, a research team consisting of engineers and scientists from European research institutions and from industry will be developing a handheld ophthalmic imaging device for mobile, low-cost OCT. It is based on novel photonic integrated technology and will be tested together with medical doctors from the Vienna General Hospital.

The goal is to enable point of care applications of a well-established imaging modality for the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of important eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR) and glaucoma that are together the worldwide leading cause for blindness. This is achieved by dramatically reducing the size of the diagnostic device and reducing fabrication costs while at the same time increasing the usability and performance of OCT technology for broad applicability. It is expected that this technological jump will improve ophthalmic care, in particular point-of-care diagnostics and diagnostic-driven therapy, and reduce the burden to the health care systems at the same time.

Mobile applications by smaller and cheaper photonic technologies

Just like integrated electronics has opened the door to compact and mobile electronic devices for a wide range of applications, integrated photonics has the potential to enable versatile new applications, e.g. mobile medical imaging. In ophthalmic care, OCT is a standard imaging modality with broad clinical relevance that can benefit from significant size and cost reductions by a high degree of integration. If combined with a high usability enabled by a new performance level, OCT could make the step from a stationary clinical to a point-of-care imaging modality with substantial implications for the eye care of the future, in particular addressing challenges of an aging society.


Engineers and scientists work together with medical doctors

The Medical University of Vienna is leading the project “Handheld optical coherence tomography (HandheldOCT)”, which consists of a consortium with seven partners from four European countries. The project has been awarded a grant of EUR 6 million from Horizon 2020, the EU program for research and innovation.

The project addresses a significant technical challenge and offers a large opportunity by advancing a well-established optical imaging technology for medical care. To evaluate the potential and the usability of the mobile technology, it will be developed jointly in the consortium and assessed by medical doctors and scientists of the Medical University Vienna for benchmarking. The successful evaluation in an established medical application will open the door to OCT’s broad mobile use for out-in-the-field care and in the clinical praxis.

For further information: 

Prof. Wolfgang Drexler, Head of Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Medical University Vienna, Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, General Hospital Vienna, Mail:; Phone: +43 1 40400-19860.


To find out more about this project click here.



  • Medical University Vienna, Austria
  • Tyndall National Institute, Ireland
  • imec, Belgium
  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Austria
  • Innolume GmbH, Germany
  • Nanoscribe GmbH, Germany
  • Carl Zeiss AG, Germany

EU H2020 Projects


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