ARVO showcases latest research

Studies on robot assisted visual field analysis, online symptom checkers and at-home OCT devices were presented at ARVO

ARVO event

Researchers at the 2018 annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Honolulu, Hawaii (29 April–3 May) shared insight into the latest advances to treat, diagnose and prevent diseases that cause sight loss.

ARVO president, Claude Burgoyne, said: “These studies highlight how technology is changing the way we study, detect, diagnose and treat ocular and visual system disease. Whether it is with a cell phone or using web-based products, new technologies are impacting vision research and transforming patient care.”

Online symptom checkers

Research into the accuracy of online vision symptom checkers was shared by researchers from McMaster University in Canada.

A total of 42 cases were entered in an online programme, which found that just 26% of the cases presented the correct diagnosis, with several cases requiring urgent care identified as non-urgent.

The study’s first author, Michael Nguyen, said: “As more patients present with self-guided research of their eye symptoms, it is important for eye care professionals to be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of popular online symptom checkers.”

Robot interaction

Optometrist Allison McKendrick, from the University of Melbourne, presented findings into a new study that found that patients enjoyed interacting with both human and humanoid robot assistants during standard vision testing.

During the study, visual field analysis was carried out with supervision from human, humanoid robot, computer speaker and no supervision. The study found that replacing a human operator for a robotic one may increase clinical efficiency while maintaining clinical outcomes.

Ms McKendrick said: “Low patient and operator engagement can lead to inaccurate results and a lack of desire to perform the test as often as recommended.”

"These studies highlight how technology is changing the way we study, detect, diagnose and treat ocular and visual system disease"

At-home OCT

Researchers from the University of Kiel in Germany have developed an instrument to monitor the condition of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients at home.

Images taken by the at-home optical coherence tomography (OCT) device were compared to higher resolution images taken by standard devices. It found the at-home device was accurate 90% of the time, suggesting that the technology may one day enable patients and clinicians a method to monitor the progression of AMD while eliminating the need for monthly visits to the clinic.

Claus von der Burchard, from the University of Kiel's department of ophthalmology, said: “Home monitoring for retinal disorders via OCT offers huge potential for improving patient care, but cannot be done by today’s clinical devices, which are too expensive and too difficult to use.”

Larger scale testing is currently ongoing to achieve the accuracy necessary for clinical use.

Monitoring patient behaviour

Holographic eye tracking technology has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois in the US.

The technology could be developed into a device worn as a pair of spectacles to diagnose a variety of vision disorders, providing eye care professionals with information on patient behaviour outside of the clinic.

Speaking about its use, postdoctoral research associate at the university, Changgend Liu, said: “A lightweight, wearable see-through eye tracker can be used in diagnosing and rectifying eye disorders when the patient is performing daily activities in a natural setting, such as a seven-year old reading or writing at a desk.”

Mobile screening

Scientists have developed an app using a smartphone and Google Cardboard that enables patients to carry out vision screening themselves.

The app and a traditional visual field testing instrument were used to examine 19 patients. The mobile test took 8.6 minutes, compared to 5.7 minutes for the traditional instrument.

Professor Moshe Eizenman, from the University of Toronto in Canada, explained that the app could help patients in remote locations. 

“Visual field testing on personal smartphones can enable vision screening in developing countries where access to expensive equipment and dedicated testing facilities is limited,” Professor Eizenman said. 

Image credit: ARVO