Douglas Anderson: My invention saved my son's eyesight
WHEN five-year-old Leif Anderson lost the sight in his left eye because a retinal detachment was diagnosed too late, his devastated father vowed no other parent should have to face a similar heartbreak.

Despite regular eye examinations, clinicians missed the warning signs that led to the loss but with more thorough testing Leif’s condition would have been detected and he would likely have retained his vision. So medical technology designer Douglas set about inventing a fast, non-intrusive whole-retina scanner, which was patient-friendly enough for a five-year-old but would give examiners a full view of the eye, unlike the partial glimpse which most machines provided at the time.

The result was Optos, which uses laser technology to monitor any changes in the eye that would otherwise go undetected using traditional examination techniques and equipment. Not only is the scanner now used in hospitals across the country, the machine also helped save the vision in Leif’s other eye after it detected a new retina problem several years later. The technological innovation is now celebrating 11 years since it was recognised with the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award, the UK’s most prestigious prize in the field and known as the Oscars of the engineering world.