Peter K. Kaiser, MD
“This powerful technology has allowed us to make more and more complex and high performing circuits … They’re the basis of everything electronic we have, unprecedented in human history.”
—Gordon E Moore, PhD
Dr. Gordon E. Moore introduced one of the more famous computer “laws,” now known as Moore’s Law, in a magazine article in 1965. Incorrectly quoted as saying computer speeds would double every two years, Moore’s law states that the number of components, such as transistors, in an integrated circuit would double every year (since revised to every two years) for at least a decade.
Not only did this law turn out to be true, but it actually moved faster than he anticipated as we have become better at miniaturization with single-core devices, moving to quad-core or more in the same space. But it is now slowing down, and it is anticipated that Moore’s Law will end in 2022, when the 5-nm chip, thought to be the smallest we can go, will be produced. However, my prediction is that, by then, science will find a way to make them even smaller, faster, and more efficient.
Moore’s law has also been applied to most advancements in the electronics industry — from memory capacity to pixels in digital cameras. Devices can be made faster, smaller, and cheaper as time goes on. The law can also be loosely applied to our advancements in optical coherence tomography.
The original time-domain images made by a Harvard medical student named David Huang in James Fujimoto’s lab at MIT in the early 1990s were rudimentary at best. Jay Duker famously proclaimed that this technology would go nowhere when the first patients were imaged at Tufts University. For the most part in those early years, he was right.
But the killer application for OCT came a few years later, with the advent of anti-VEGF therapy. It went from a cool toy to a necessity. Over the next few years, Fourier- or spectral-domain technology, removed from the shackles of IP protection, made huge leaps in technology and software algorithms. For example, we can now image blood flow using various software techniques to make OCT angiography a reality.
We are about to make the next major jump in commercial OCT systems with swept-source (SS) devices hitting the market. The first SS devices are considerably faster than current non-SS devices, but the acquisition technology is already light years ahead, and much faster devices are just around the corner.
Moreover, the longer wavelength light sources allow us to look deeper into the eye and even image the entire eye in one pass. In this issue, Nadia Waheed explores how these newer OCT technologies are giving us better insight into the choroid and its role in retinal diseases.
Ophthalmology is not the only place that OCT technology is moving forward at a lightning pace. Breakthroughs in other fields will quickly be transferred to retina. In 1975, Intel, which Moore founded, paid $10,000 for the magazine in which the article that first quoted Moore’s law was published. I wonder how much that first OCT is worth now?