Duke Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite - Transforming Eye Care for Children

Friday, March 1, 2019
Cynthia Toth, MD Lejla Vajzovic, MD, Du Van-Triet and patient in peds eye imaging suite

With bright, cheerful art on the walls, and a location right inside Duke Eye Center's Pediatric Clinic, the new Duke Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite was clearly created with the Duke Eye Center's youngest patients in mind. Along with child-friendly ambience, this new facility offers children access to the same cutting-edge imaging technologies available to adult patients and new child-specific imaging equipment.

The Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite was designed to accommodate all pediatric patients requiring eye imaging while at Duke Eye Center, and is the official clinical home of the Duke Pediatric Retina and Optic Nerve Center (DPROC), one of few centers across in the US to treat pediatric patients with complex retinal and optic nerve diseases. The new Suite and DPROC resulted from the commitment and vision of four faculty at Duke Eye Center —Cynthia Toth, MD; Sharon Freedman, MD; Lejla Vajzovic, MD and Mays El-Dairi, MD —along with the collaboration of the entire Pediatric Ophthalmology Division at Duke.

Previously, children who required eye imaging had to navigate across Duke Eye Center’s large multidisciplinary pavilion to an area that also served adult patients. The new Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite offers convenience for families and a special place just for kids so they may feel more comfortable in a clinical setting.

From the pediatric waiting room and play area, children can be called directly into the Suite, have their eyes imaged in a kid-friendly environment, and then go right back to see their eye doctor. "Eye imaging is so critical to patient care, that this is like a dream come true to have it situated right in the pediatric clinic,” says Freedman, Professor of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics, and Chief of Pediatric Ophthalmology.  

This eye imaging suite is a significant addition to the pediatric clinic because it provides state-of-the-art patient care through the addition of new eye imaging equipment designed specifically for infants and children.  These new tools, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) will strengthen our already robust program for management of pediatric eye disorders.

Toth, Joseph A.C. Wadsworth Professor of Ophthalmology and professor of biomedical engineering was the first ophthalmologist to take optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging into the intensive care nursery. She works with engineers to develop imaging devices that will improve eye care for infants and children. "Our multi-disciplinary team here at Duke has unique expertise and technical skills," she says. “Prior to enhancing our OCT technology to accommodate young children, it was only used for adult eye imaging. We knew that we were missing out on critical in-depth information that would help diagnose and manage our pediatric patients. By identifying problems earlier, we can potentially help infants to have healthier eyes later in life.  I am proud of our achievements in this area and look forward to future research that will improve the eye care of young children,” said Toth.

"The Duke Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite is one floor up from our pediatric retinal research center," say Vajzovic and El Dairi. "Through the support of volunteer research participants, we can learn more about healthy eye development and diseases in children. The research volunteers are vital to advancing  the science and care of children’s eyes here at Duke Eye Center and around the world."

Having the Duke Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite and DPROC’s new clinical home right in the Duke Eye Center’s Pediatric Clinic,  affords us the opportunity to expand research capability with ongoing funding from philanthropic gifts as well as grant funding sources.

The Duke Pediatric Eye Imaging Suite is the epicenter for pediatric eye care and research that will transform patient care for years to come.

Thank you to our donors! The passion exuded by Duke Eye Center clinician-scientists to better diagnose and manage young children with eye diseases has extended to individuals and groups with a special interest in helping advance diagnosis and treatment of pediatric ophthalmic diseases. We appreacite he generous support of the Smale family that allowed the establishemnt of the Pediatric Eye Imaging Registry.  The DPROC was made possible in part by generous support from Mr. James Andrew. Duke research that led to the DPROC achievements was supported by The Hartwell Foundation, The National Institutes of Health, The Retinal Research Foundation, Knights Templar, and Research to Prevent Blindness. 

This story originally appeared in the 2019 issue of VISION magazine.