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Wearable Device for the Early Detection of Common Diabetes-related Neurological Condition
|By Business Wire
|July 28, 2014 09:57 AM EDT
A group of researchers in Taiwan has developed a new optical technology
that may be able to detect an early complication of diabetes sooner,
when it is more easily treated. If the device proves safe and effective
in clinical trials, it may pave the way for the early detection and more
effective treatment of this complication, called diabetic autonomic
neuropathy, which is common among people with both Type 1 and Type 2
diabetes. The condition progressively affects the autonomic nerves
controlling vital organs like the heart and gastrointestinal system.
This can lead to problems like fainting, incontinence, nausea, heart
arrhythmias and an increased risk of bacterial infection.
A prototype pupillometer designed for a patient to wear for a half hour or so in a doctor's office and test for diabetic autonomic neuropathy. It may help diagnose the condition sooner, leading to better treatment outcomes. Credit: M. Ou-Yang, National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan.
Described in a paper published today in The Optical Society (OSA)’s
Optics, the new technology is a small, wearable device called
a pupillometer that can hang on a pair of eyeglasses and only weighs 78
grams, slightly heavier than Google Glass. Developed by a team at
National Taiwan University Hospital, Hsin Chu branch and National
Chiao-Tung University, the device is designed to be worn for a half hour
or so in the doctor's office, during which time it would monitor a
person's pupils. By carefully measuring five parameters associated with
the pupils, doctors may then be able to detect the earliest signs
of diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
Detecting someone's asymptomatic diabetic autonomic neuropathy early and
treating it properly may lead to far better health outcomes for them.
Currently the condition is often not detected until moderate
nerve damage and organ dysfunction are present.
Currently doctors rely on observing changes in digestive speed, heart
rate and blood pressure to detect diabetic autonomic neuropathy, but
this limits their ability to make a diagnosis early on, said
Mang Ou-Yang, who led the research with colleagues at National
Chiao-Tung University. Now they have shown that monitoring the pupils of
people with diabetes may be a better approach.
"Compared to the existing diagnostic techniques, the pupillometer is a
more reliable, effective, portable and inexpensive solution for
diagnosing diabetic autonomic neuropathy in its early stages," said
The pupil is useful for detecting diabetic autonomic neuropathy due to
the neurological conditions caused by the disease. Like many organs, the
eyes and pupil are dually innervated, receiving signals from both the
parasympathetic and sympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous
system. These divisions control the pupil’s circular and radial muscles,
The pupillometer, which is small enough to be mounted onto the front of
a pair of glasses, works by emitting four colored lights to stimulate
the pupil. A beam splitter attached to the device then filters the
visible light that is reflected from the eye to the device’s camera,
which processes the images to analyze the pupil’s size.
The device measures 10 parameters related to pupil diameter and response
time. Of those 10, the researchers found that five parameters were
significantly different in people with diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
Ou-Yang says if clinical trials are successful, the pupillometer could
be available by the end of the decade.
Future research for Ou-Yang and his lab includes scaling down the size
of the device, expanding the device’s capabilities to observe two pupils
simultaneously and collecting more experimental results from diabetic
and analysis of wearable pupillometer for autonomic neuropathy of
diabetic patients,” M.-L. Ko et al., Applied Optics, Volume
53, Issue 29, pp. H27-H34 (2014).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Images are available to members of the media upon
request. Contact Angela Stark, [email protected]
About Applied Optics
Applied Optics publishes articles emphasizing
applications-centered research in optics, moving the potential of
science and technology to the practical. Published three times each
month, Applied Optics reports significant optics applications
from optical testing and instrumentation to medical optics...from
holography to optical neural networks...from LIDAR and remote sensing to
laser materials processing. Each issue contains content from three
divisions of editorial scope: Optical Technology; Information
Processing; and Lasers, Photonics and Environmental Optics. It is edited
by Joseph Mait of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. For more
information, visit www.OpticsInfoBase.org/AO.
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional
society for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who
fuel discoveries, shape real-world applications and accelerate
achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned
publications, meetings and membership programs, OSA provides quality
research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its
extensive global network of professionals in optics and photonics. For
more information, visit www.osa.org.
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