Degenerative eye diseases affect more than 13 million people in the U.S. Experts estimate that as the population ages, up to a fourth of Americans will be affected with degenerative eye diseases by 2020. An ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center has helped create a convenient device that lets patients who have a degenerative eye disease better track vision changes.
“With the hand-held digital device, called “myVisionTrack”, patients can do an accurate self-test in less than 90 seconds”, said Dr. Yu-Guang He, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the university. The “myVisionTrack’s” shape discrimination tests are twice as sensitive as the paper eye chart in detecting small changes in vision.
Supplied as an app on an iPhone or iPod touch, the prototype device displays three circles on a screen, one of which is markedly different from the others. Patients cover one eye and then touch what they perceive to be the odd-shaped circle on the screen. With each click the differentiation becomes more subtle. The test is then repeated with the other eye. Results are stored in the device so patients do not have to memorize scores. If a significant vision change is detected, patients are instructed to see their doctor.
The eye device was produced by Vital Art and Science Inc. a Richardson Texas-based biotech firm that recently received approval for up to $1 million from the Texas Emerging Technology fund to develop the product.
Researchers at UT Southwestern and the Retina Foundation of the Southwest tested the prototype device in an eight month clinical study funded by NIH’s National Eye Institute. Forty diabetic patients diagnosed with retinopathy used the monitoring device at home each week. Their test results showed a high correlation with an ophthalmologist’s reading of their retinal images, taken at the beginning, midpoint, and at the end of the study.