Far-Out Eye Exams In Earthly Places - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Far-Out Eye Exams In Earthly Places

A new vision test created by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory holds promise for the early, painless detection of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and even certain kinds of strokes and brain tumors.

Poets call the eyes "windows to the soul." For Wolfgang Fink, senior member of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., they're windows to the brain. A computer model he's created with colleague Alfredo Sadun holds promise for the early, painless detection of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and even certain kinds of strokes and brain tumors.

To take the new vision test, a person covers one eye while viewing a grid on a notebook equipped with a touch screen. While keeping vision fixed on the center of the grid and going at whatever pace is most comfortable, he or she must trace missing portions of the grid. The computer processes the data and generates a three-dimensional image of the visual field for evaluation by a physician.

Fink says it's very interactive and patients prefer it to traditional testing, which can take as long as 40 minutes. "They sit and wait anxiously; they can't blink," he says. "But this takes five minutes. People report that they enjoy it."

Glaucoma and macular degeneration are the two leading causes of blindness. If caught early, glaucoma responds to treatment. In a recent clinical trial among patients with suspected glaucoma, 79% who tested normal with traditional scans showed signs of the disease under the new test.

NASA is interested in the test for manned space flights. Zero gravity can cause increased pressure in the skull, Fink says, leading to temporary visual field defects or even stroke. The test can also tip off doctors about brain tumors that affect the field of vision. "You can administer the test on the Internet, or in the middle of nowhere--and uplink the data to a central computer by satellite," Fink says. "It won't replace a doctor, but where expertise isn't easily available, it gives you a proficient opinion, and a doctor can confirm it."

Already in clinical trials at the University of Southern California, the 3-D Computer-Based Threshold Amsler Grid Test may become commercially available as early as next year. Fink anticipates it could become as common and easy-to-use as in-store blood-pressure monitoring machines. He envisions it in optometrists' offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and even supermarkets.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

How SolarWinds Changed Cybersecurity Leadership's Priorities
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/26/2021
How CIOs Can Advance Company Sustainability Goals
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  5/26/2021
IT Skills: Top 10 Programming Languages for 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/21/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll