Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scanner Could Diagnose "Lazy Eye" In Infants

Date:
March 1, 1999
Source:
The Whitaker Foundation
Summary:
Gaze directly at the red spot of light from David Hunter's little black box, and the box will start beeping. The instant you look away, the beeping stops. Look back at it, and the sound resumes. The box---a retinal birefringence scanner---measures the eyes' point of fixation in a new way independent of the head's position or other factors. By this method, doctors may be able to diagnose eye diseases in infants and children too young to cooperate with a physician's exam. Disabled people could use the device to communicate or operate appliances from anywhere in a room.

ROSSLYN, Va., February 22, 1999---Gaze directly at the red spot of light from David Hunter's little black box, and the box will start beeping. The instant you look away, the beeping stops. Look back at it, and the sound resumes.

The box---a retinal birefringence scanner---measures the eyes' point of fixation in a new way independent of the head's position or other factors. By this method, doctors may be able to diagnose eye diseases in infants and children too young to cooperate with a physician's exam. Disabled people could use the device to communicate or operate appliances from anywhere in a room.

"It's a new way to use eye contact to replace a remote control," said Hunter, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. "There are other methods that use eye position for remote control, but they are based on video, which requires a camera to focus, so the subject's head position is fairly restricted.

"The scanner has the potential to give more freedom of movement to the person, because it depends on the focus of the person's eyes and not of the camera. As long as light is getting into the eye and back out to the scanner, it works," he said.

Hunter has a clinical practice at Hopkins and regularly sees young eye patients. He and colleague David Guyton, M.D., developed the scanner to help diagnose amblyopia early enough to cure it. They led a group of researchers at the Laboratory of Ophthalmic Optics in the Krieger Children's Eye Center at Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute.

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, affects about 5 percent of the population, causing slight to severe vision impairment. In the disorder, one eye is either misaligned or out of focus, causing a faulty signal to reach the brain. To compensate, the brain responds by closing off the signal from the weaker eye. Over time, this can prevent the problem eye from ever focusing sharply, even with corrective lenses.

But caught early, amblyopia can be corrected completely by having the patient wear a patch over the stronger eye for six months or more until the weaker one develops equal strength.

"I deal with this from the clinical side every day," Hunter said. "It's frustrating to see a child at 6 or 7 and not be able to do anything for them. Had they been seen at age 3, I could have completely treated them."

The retinal birefringence scanner---named for its ability to detect changes in reflected light---works like this: The shoebox-sized scanner emits a faint, red circular beam of polarized, infrared light. Polarized light waves are all aligned, unlike normal light waves, which go in all directions.

When a person looks into the red light, the beam is reflected back to a set of detectors that can tell whether the aligned waves have been disturbed. Polarized light reflected from the fovea, the point of fixation on the retina, is disturbed in a unique way. This distortion indicates that the eye is looking at the red light. Light reflected from other parts of the eye is not distorted in the same way.

The device has been tested in patients, but hundreds of additional tests in patients of all ages and sizes will be necessary before the device could be put into clinical practice. The scanner is described in the March issue of the journal Applied Optics, and preliminary patient results will be presented at the April meeting of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

If the scanner continues to perform well in patient trials, other applications may emerge. In glaucoma visual field testing, for example, patients are required to focus on a spot during the examination. The clinician must check the patient during the exam to be sure the eye remains fixed on the spot, otherwise the test is inaccurate. Hunter's scanner could guarantee that patients are looking where they should throughout the glaucoma test.

"The scanner is still in the lab; it is not a commercial instrument," Hunter said. "The distance from the lab to a commercial product can become infinitely far."

- - - - - - -

Contact: Frank Blanchard (703) 528-2430 fb@whitaker.org


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Whitaker Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Whitaker Foundation. "Scanner Could Diagnose "Lazy Eye" In Infants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990301073049.htm>.
The Whitaker Foundation. (1999, March 1). Scanner Could Diagnose "Lazy Eye" In Infants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990301073049.htm
The Whitaker Foundation. "Scanner Could Diagnose "Lazy Eye" In Infants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990301073049.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins