What's New in Healthcare
Eye diseases identified by how we watch TV
One of the leading causes of blindness worldwide could be
detected by how our eyes respond to watching TV according to a new study from
researchers at City University London.
researchers, who were funded by the UK charity Fight for Sight, found that they
could identify diseases such as glaucoma by looking at maps of people's eye
movements while they watched a film.
an estimated half a million people in the UK living with undiagnosed glaucoma,
the research could help speed up diagnosis, enabling clinicians to identify the
disease earlier and allowing treatment to begin before the onset of permanent
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around 65 million people worldwide, glaucoma describes a group of eye
conditions that result in progressive damage to the optic nerve which connects
the retina to the brain, causing people to gradually lose vision.
makes glaucoma dangerous, however, is that this sort of vision loss can be
subtle at first. People often do not know they have loss of peripheral vision.
Unfortunately, as glaucoma worsens, these compensatory perceptive mechanisms
unravel leading to noticeable sight loss, visual impairment and in some cases
blindness. The condition is irreversible.
team, which was led by Professor David Crabb along with Dr Nicholas Smith and
Dr Haogang Zhu, compared a group of 32 elderly people with healthy vision to 44
patients with a clinical diagnosis of glaucoma. Both groups underwent standard
vision examinations and disease severity was also measured for the group with
were then shown three unmodified TV and film clips on a computer while an
eye-tracking device recorded all eye movement, and particularly the direction
in which people were looking. These data were then used to produce detailed
maps which enabled the diagnosis of glaucoma. The paper is published in the
journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
Crabb, Professor of Statistics and Vision Research, said: "These are early
results but we've found we can identify patients with glaucoma by monitoring
how people watch TV. This could make a huge difference in detecting or
monitoring a disease which currently results in one in ten of all blindness
registrations in the UK and about a million NHS appointments a year for those
with the disease. Once the damage is done it cannot be reversed, so early
diagnosis is vital for identifying a disease which will continue to get more prevalent
as our population ages."
Dolores M Conroy, Director of Research at Fight for Sight said: "One of
Fight for Sight's six long-term goals is to enable conditions such as glaucoma
to be detected earlier. Early diagnosis and treatment can stop people losing
their sight, so we're very pleased that this proof-of-principle eye movement
study opens the door to developing a new clinical test for glaucoma.
Furthermore it address one of the priorities for glaucoma research identified
by the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership-a consultation with
patients, relatives, carers and eye health professionals."
The above story is based on materials provided by Frontiers.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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