Wearable optical device detects diabetic complication

One symptom of diabetic autonomic neuropathy is sluggish pupil reaction.  The Taiwan researchers published an initial study in The Optical Society journal Applied Optics evaluating the effectiveness of their wearable pupillometer.  The pupillometer can hang on a pair of eyeglasses and weighs 78 grams, a bit heavier than Google Glass.  The device is designed to be worn for a half-hour or so in a doctor’s office, during which time it would monitor a person’s pupils.  By measuring 5 parameters associated with the pupils, doctors can detect the earliest signs of diabetic autonomic neuropathy.

Researchers tested the pupillometer on 36 healthy subjects and 10 diabetic patients using four different colors (white, red, green and blue) as well as two different light intensities: 50 and 500 mcd.  The different colored lights stimulate the pupil.  They measured 10 parameters but found that only 5 of these were significantly different in people with diabetic autonomic neuropathy.  Of these, three were related to pupil diameter, one to light intensities and one to pupil response speed.  Using these parameters with the pupillometer obtained over 85% sensitivity, 83% specificity, and 88% accuracy.

Currently, doctors observe change in digestive speed, heart rate and blood pressure to detect diabetic autonomic neuropathy; however, with this method the complication is difficult to identify early on, said lead author Mang Ou-Yang.  “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 Ou-Yang in a statement.

The researchers are focused on reducing the scale of the device and improving its capability to observe two pupils simultaneously.  They hope to advance the pupillometer into further clinical testing and to make it available by the end of the decade.

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 28 JUL 2014; Stacy Lawrence

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