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HomemiequipmentThe Kowa Power Tool

The Kowa Power Tool

Kowa of Japan started manufacturing cameras in 1954, a number of years before they manufactured their first fundus camera, which they’ve been making for the last 46 years. Today, they’ve sold almost thirty thousand units. Kowa also manufacture a range of other equipment for the ophthalmic industry including: tonometers, perimeters, portable slit lamps and auto refractors. The company is also the manufacturer of high-quality binoculars, sporting scopes, eyepieces (for microscopes), video transmitters and receivers, opto-electronics and audio consoles for broadcasting.

The Alpha-D3

The latest generation of Kowa Non- Mydriatic fundus camera, the Alpha- D3, continues a long tradition of Kowa fundus cameras in Australia, dating back to the early 1980s when Richard Grills (Designs For Vision founder and ODMA Chairman) sold his first Kowa camera.

The latest Alpha-D3 has a higher resolution 8.3 megapixel internal CCD camera, which is sealed away from damage, theft and dust. This purposebuilt, scientific CCD camera offers high quality images with perfect tonal qualities, smaller file sizes, and fast USB2 interface.


“Kowa has also redesigned their optics to now photograph through even smaller pupils – down to 3.3mm in small pupil mode in order to photograph even more area without dilation.”

Kowa has also redesigned their optics to now photograph through even smaller pupils – down to 3.3mm in small pupil mode in order to photograph even more area without dilation.

The all new, automated internal fixation makes retinal mosaics incredibly simple, and the comprehensive, yet easy-to-use Kowa VK2 software automatically aligns your photos to provide you with a detailed retinal map. As with previous models, the Kowa VK2 software will seamlessly link with the major practice management software systems, and automatically identifies photos as left or right.

Regardless of whether or not your practice has software, organising picture files is straightforward and mostly automated. The only data entry required is the patient’s name. The date is automatically updated and all the patient files are stored in one location. Even if you do forget to add a patient’s details before taking the photo, this information can be added at a later date.

Searching for previous photographs requires only typing in the first few letters of the patient’s name. There is also a search by date function, for all photos taken over the past 24 hours. Images taken from other sources can be easily added to a patient’s file.

Additional Software

Previous Kowa VK2 software favourites are still included in the software: red-free and nerve fibre layer filters; C:D and A:V ratio measurement; length and angle measurement for discs/lesions; zoom; multiple image overlay; drag and drop to alternate folders; and one-step email and print functions. The camera’s unique software allows for viewing of the stereo images without 3D glasses or other visual aids.

Taking stereo photographs is straightforward and does not require any advanced training. This is a particularly powerful feature, which allows patients to observe optic disc changes that occur over time. By depressing the left mouse button while over a photo, a magnifying lens appears, which can be moved over the whole picture for much higher detail quick viewing. Multiple filters such as the red free filter can also be employed in this mode.

An exclusive education module enables excellent cross-referencing with photos of eye conditions, either pre-loaded by Kowa, or added by the user.

There are also physiological diagrams of the eye and optical pathways for reference. Rather than speak in general and abstract terms, for example, a clinician can show a person with potential glaucoma, their own disc photos, as compared to normal healthy discs, or severely cupped discs. Similar comparisons can be done for ARMD and diabetic retinopathy.

This is a very powerful tool for explaining pathology and eye health education, as it helps the patient understand the different stages of disease and its mechanisms.

After viewing the photo, patients feel like they are involved in the process of treatment (if necessary) and/or management of their ocular health. Using the camera in such a way reduces misunderstandings and enhances practitioner-patient relationships.

Even media opacities such as corneal scars or cataracts (that may interfere with clear fundus photo viewing) can be used to provide a powerful demonstration to the patient of the effect the cataract is having on their vision, when compared to a normal, clear fundus photograph. For these poorer images, the VK2 software is complete with image manipulation techniques using gamma, image sharpening, contrast and brightening, so a great deal of information is still derived from them. A manipulated image can be saved and added as the next image in that patient’s file, whilst the original remains.

The standard full field photograph on the Kowa Alpha-D3 is 45 degrees; ideal for the posterior pole. Additionally, there is a 30 degree highly magnified field using optical zoom, and, at the flick of a switch, anterior eye photos can also be easily obtained. The 30 degree field setting produces unparalleled optic disc images that are truly astounding in their detail.

The Alpha-D3 is also very compact and can neatly fit onto your existing chair and stand, right next to your slit lamp. The patient need not move, which is perfect for less mobile patients, saving valuable time.

Even with the recent fall in value of the Australian dollar, setting up a fundus camera in your examination room requires only a modest investment in time and money. If you couple this with low leasing cost and the temporary tax incentive for businesses investing AUD$10,000 or more, make a purchase of this nature very attractive.

Superb optics coupled with a software package that is easily navigated via instantly recognisable icons, makes the Kowa Alpha-D3 an excellent addition to your practice. Utilising this camera will allow you to evaluate pathologies more efficiently and increase your patient’s understanding more effectively than ever before.

Will Robertson is a technical specialist in optometry equipment, surgical magnification and radiosurgery. He started in optics in 1984 manufacturing contact lenses, lens laboratories and then dispensing/ management. He is currently with Designs for Vision.