Camera photographs skin damage

An advanced camera is the key to ongoing research that aims to help Australians protect themselves from skin cancer.
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  • Updated:6 Jul 2009

01.Camera photographs skin damage

A long-term Queensland study examining the link between sun exposure and skin cancer is using a cutting-edge camera to reveal disturbing skin damage not normally visible to the naked eye.

The camera was acquired from the US, where a similar study has led to an extensive database of different skin types. It has been modified for Australian use by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), who are calling for study participants.

They aim to compile a database of Australian skin types, which will contribute to the longer term objective of detecting risk factors for skin cancer.

"We’d like to assess if we can, through a non-invasive way, how much damage people have done to their skin and see what their risk of developing skin cancer is," says Michael Kimlin, Associate Professor of QUT’s AusSun Research Laboratory.

The camera operates by taking ordinary photos using ultraviolet (UV) light. Low-light UV is shone on participants’ faces so researchers can see where it is absorbed and reflected – lots of damage will show up as darker.

The results are then used to place people into categories, comparing their recorded skin damage with others of the same and different ages. Professor Kimlin says the results so far have been alarming.

If you live interstate and want to be part of the study you can have your photo taken whenever you visit Queensland.

“We are looking for a representative sample of skin types in Australia,” says Kimlin. “We can take anyone from age 10 onwards and we’re looking for a range of different skin, eye and hair colour.”

People are asked to fill out a short questionnaire, have pictures of their face taken. They will be able to look at their skin damage and have their progress tracked over time. To be a part of the study, contact QUT on 07 3138 0004.


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