Keeping an eye on glaucoma

Glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, is caused by damage to the optic nerve from an increase in fluid pressure. Most cases of glaucoma remain undiagnosed, especially at early stages when intervention would be most beneficial.

To determine the underlying cause of pressure increase, ophthalmologists press a device called a gonioscope against the patient’s eyeball, a process that is both time-consuming and uncomfortable for the patient.

Hoping to make glaucoma diagnosis faster and less unpleasant, scientists from NTU and the Singapore Eye Research Institute developed a pen-sized camera device called the GonioPEN, which combines a high-resolution camera and LED lights to take high-quality images of the eye.

Once images have been captured from four different perspectives, an automated software generates diagnoses on the spot, allowing glaucoma examinations to be carried out routinely in the clinic and eliminating the need for a specialist.

“With the GonioPEN, a digital image with high resolution can now be stored for future reference,” says study leader Assoc Prof Murukeshan Vadakke Matham, Director of NTU’s Centre for Optical and Laser Engineering. “A specialist can refer to the image for in-depth diagnosis and track the changes in the patient’s condition over time,” he adds.

Patents for the GonioPEN have been filed through NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise arm. The invention has also been reported in The Straits Times (2018), CNA (2018), Asian Scientist (2018), New Atlas (2018) and others.

This article appeared first in NTU’s research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #14, December 2018).

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