By Ariella Schiller
Israeli researchers have developed a device that can diagnose diseases using an eyelid motion monitor (EMM). The team says the device has the potential to diagnose diseases with a neurological expression including Ptosis, Thyroid eye disease, Parkinson’s disease, Myasthenia Gravis, and third and seventh cranial nerve palsy.
The device has already won some international awards. It was ranked in the top 20 in the Texas Instruments Innovation Challenge (TIIC) – Europe Design Contest.
The device was initially developed at the Technion by Prof. Levi Schachter and doctoral trainee Adi Hanuka. She began working on it as an undergraduate and continued handling the project with the help of a team of students working under her inspection.
Over the past two years, the device has been used in clinical trials at Haemek Medical Center in Afula, Israel.
Hanuka explained: “Eyelid motion provides us with meaningful information about the health of a patient. This move can indicate not only eye diseases, but also neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, and autoimmune diseases such as Graves’ disease, also known as toxic diffuse goiter, is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid.
The team developed a device that can be installed on the standard refraction glasses used in eye tests.
The glasses are fitted with a hardware and software system that monitors and interprets eyelid movements. With the approval of the Ethics Committee Regulations for Research Work Involving Human Participants, measurements of approximately 100 subjects were collected to determine the eyelid motion patterns, the blinking speed, and frequency of a healthy person.
Eyelid motions were analyzed using a signal-processing algorithm written by the Technion’s students Tal Berkowitz, Michal Spector, Shir Laufer, and Naama Pearl.
First, the team first examined blepharospasm dystonia, a disease characterized by involuntary contraction of the muscles responsible for closing the eyes. They found a statistically quantitative connection between eyelid pattern and a disease, which means that the device could be used to diagnose some conditions.
The system was also used to check the results of Botox injections, the common treatment for the disease, and it was found that within 15 minutes contractions lessen, and the blinking pattern begins to adjust indices that exist among healthy people.
The researchers are also gathering information about other groups, including patients with dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Besides, working now to commercialize the device, the team develops new directions. Hanuka explained: “We are developing the device for research on various topics such as the effect of emotions on blinking patterns; eyelid communication amongst the paralyzed; and automatic diagnosis through machine learning and based on a computerized comparison between the specific monitoring and an extensive database.”
The project was published recently in Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.