Imaging device could help in the healing of dry eyes
Dry eye disease is quite a common condition, in which an insufficient tear film causes one's eyes to frequently become irritated. A new device has been designed to improve diagnosis of the malady, perhaps also leading to more effective treatments.
Developed by Israeli firm AdOM Advanced Optical Methods, the tool is known as the Tear Film Imager. Utilizing eye-safe halogen light, it quickly and non-invasively images the tear film that covers each of a patient's eyes.
More specifically, it analyzes the full spectrum of light reflected off the surface of the eye, to measure how the thickness of the inner layers of that film vary over both time and space. It is particularly useful at imaging what is called the aqueous sublayer. This part of the film plays a key role in the disease, but has traditionally proven difficult to analyze via conventional methods.
The Tear Film Imager has already been the subject of two clinical trials in Israel and Canada, where it was reportedly found to be as accurate as techniques that are more complex and invasive. It works even if the patient is blinking frequently, which causes the dynamics of their tear film to change.
"For the diagnosis of dry eye disease, there have been few significant advancements over recent years," says research team leader Dr. Yoel Arieli. "We collaborated with academic and practicing physicians who diagnose and treat dry eye to develop an instrument that can be integrated into a clinical setting while very accurately imaging the tear film inner layers, which can be used to diagnose dry eye and understand its cause."
Larger studies on a more diverse range of patients are now being planned. Ultimately, it is hoped that use of the device could not only streamline diagnoses but also help improve surgical outcomes, inform better treatments, and lead to better-fitting therapeutic contact lenses.
A paper detailing a study of the technology was recently published in the journal Applied Optics.
Sources: The Optical Society