Glaucoma detection may soon become easier and more reliable with a wearable brain-based device called NGoggle. The unit uses virtual reality to diagnose early and prevent vision loss.
The device, which is not yet FDA approved, consists of head-mounted virtual reality goggles that stimulate targeted areas in patient’s visual field with light. NGoggle’s portability means that it could potentially be used in variety of environments: in an eye care provider’s office, a community center, or in a person’s home.
“Screening for glaucoma based on single intraocular pressure measurements may fail to detect up to 80 percent of the patients with the disease.“
“Current methods for glaucoma screening and monitoring are relatively primitive,” said Felipe Medeiros, M.D., Ph.D., a co-founder of NGoggle, Inc., and a professor of ophthalmology at Duke University School of Medicine.
The standard screening test for Glaucoma uses tonometry to track intraocular pressure (IOP). While an elevated IOP is the main risk factor, not all cases are associated with high pressure. Optic nerve damage may occur at a relatively low intraocular pressure. In addition, pressure fluctuates widely throughout the day and on different days, which thwarts diagnosis and screening. Conversely, high intraocular pressure may never inflict optic nerve damage in some patients.
The problem with perimetry
Many ophthalmologists employ standard automated perimetry (SAP) to monitor glaucoma progression, which depends on patients to click when they see light in their periphery.
On average, seven years of annual testing would be needed to detect disease progression. Upping the test frequency to three times annually cuts the time to five years. But achieving this number of clinic visits in a single year is not realistic for most patients because it means calling in patients several times a year.
NGoogle Works without Patient Input
In contrast to SAP, the NGoggle objectively assesses peripheral loss of vision without subjective input from the patient. The device gauges brain activity in response to signals received from the eyes. Diminished activity may indicate functional loss from glaucoma.
The virtual reality goggles are integrated with wireless electroencephalography (EEG). Within a few minutes, the NGoggle algorithm captures and analyzes enough data to report how well each eye communicates with the brain across the patient’s field of vision.
Could Glaucoma Testing Actually be Fun?
Because patients can be tested for glaucoma as they play a VR-based video game or explore a virtual art gallery, NGOOGLE hopes to make glaucoma testing entertaining. The goal is to make an engaging experience that would encourage more testing, and help people get the treatment they need.
Let the Trials Begin
Researchers at Duke are currently conducting studies to validate the NGoggle’s diagnostic accuracy and reproducibility. They will compare NGoggle results to SAP and OCT to find out how well it discriminates between the different stages of Glaucoma. The researchers will also conduct longitudinal studies to validate the ability of the device to detect disease progression.
This story was based on information from the National Institutes of Health https://www.nei.nih.gov.
Bringing Industry Experts Together to Develop New Diagnostic Technology for Deep Space Missions
NASA (National Aeronautical Space Administration) is developing an all-in-one testing device that will allow researchers to assess vision problems that arise in spaceflight.
In the “Vision for Mars Project,” NASA has partnered with a private company, Web Vision, to develop a compact, multi-purpose diagnostic that will work in the demanding confines of a spacecraft.
The Space Capsule Diagnostic Multi-Tool
The what-will-it-do list includes a vision testing (diagnostic) device that offers comprehensive vision testing, evaluation, and a guide to medical interventions of astronauts experiencing vision problems on future long-duration, deep space missions.
There is limited room for vision testing equipment on future spacecraft, so NASA needs a single device that is compact, and space hardened to conducts a multitude of vision tests including retinal imaging, visual fields, functional vision, OCT, etc.
Vision Problems in Outer Space
Astronauts currently experience significant vision issues on long-duration space missions on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA refers to the issue as Spaceflight-Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS).
Night photography has always been a challenge. In days of yore, professionals toted computers, high-end cameras, and tripods for a location shoot and used was HDR technology (high dynamic range imaging). After the images were collected, the HDR technology stacked them like a plate of pancakes and perfectly aligned each pixel with the same one above and below it. Then the program would average out the intensity, and ta-da, HDR bliss.
A Guide to Your Lux Life
|30,000||Sidewalks lit by direct sun|
|10,000||Sidewalk in shadow on clear day|
|300 lux||Office lighting|
|50 lux||Average restaurant|
|20 lux||Restaurant with mood lighting|
|3 lux||Sidewalk lit by street lamps|
|1 lux||Nearly too dark to read a newspaper|
|.1 lux||You’ll stumble walking through the house without a flashlight.|
With good equipment and the patience to take multiple exposures over a long period of time – seconds, minutes, hours – you could capture scenes and subjects in vivid detail. It wasn’t exactly ready for prime time, but Google’s “Night Sight” app for Android is changing that big time.
The new technology builds on HDR, HDR+, and new technologies, which can literally turn nighttime scenes into daylight – which might make it a handy device for a Santa stakeout, and selfies in the dark. The low-end illumination target for the app was 3 lux to .3 lux. That’s really, really dark. See the chart above for context. What you might find even more attractive are the images you can capture in friendlier lighting conditions.
Excessive UV light can damage retinas as in snow blindness. But a recent study shows that reindeer use UV as radar for their next meal.
Mammals typically see light from the visible spectrum, but UV shines in shorter wavelengths that are invisible to most mammals. Except reindeer.
Ice and snow reflect 90 percent of all UV light that hits it, while snow-free land, where the reindeer roam, only reflects around 5 percent.
Glen Jeffrey and company at the University of London wanted to know why and how reindeer used their UV powers.
In their study, they exposed the eyes of 18 anesthetized reindeer to various wavelengths of UV and visible light. (Guess where Santa’s sleigh isn’t going this year.) An electrode detected whether or not nerves in the eyes had fired when the lights were seen.
It’s All About Food
“Since migrating to the Arctic 10,000 years ago, these animals have adapted incredibly quickly,” says Jeffery.
To learn more, Jeffrey’s team explored parts of the reindeer’s range with a UV camera.
Here’s what they saw: animal urine – a sign of both predators and potential mates, and lichen, a go-to food for reindeer during winter. These elements all read black in contrast to the snowy UV reflecting snow
“Very few mammals see UV light. Rodents do and some species of bat do, but we have no idea why they have developed this capability,” says Jeffery. “This is the first time we have got a real handle on why a mammal uses UV light.”
In fact, the energy in UV light is strong enough to damage the eye’s sensitive photoreceptors and sometimes permanent damage. sometimes causes permanent vision loss. The eyes of most mammals cannot cope with UV light because it carries enough energy to destroy their sensitive photoreceptors, permanently damaging vision.
Now the big question for Jeffrey is “Why don’t reindeer, arctic fox, polar bears or arctic seals get snow blindness?” asks Jeffery. “Arctic mammals must have a completely different mechanism for protecting their retinas.” Stand by. Jeffrey and his team will be back to the Arctic, and maybe on the road to discovering human applications of their work.
Reindeer gained UV vision after moving to the Arctic.