A new, non-invasive ophthalmological instrument for the diagnosis of dry eye based on photonic techniques

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The Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development (CD6) at the UPC has developed an ophthalmological instrument to assess the tear film of the eye through an analysis of degradation of the image of the corneal reflection, an application based on photonic techniques.

The tear film is the first surface of the eye that is in contact with the air. When this part of the eye is altered, it produces the syndrome of “dry eye”. Dry eye is a disease that affects the surface of the eye and produces various symptoms of discomfort, sight disorders and instability of the tear film causing damage to the eye surface. Dry eye affects 30% of the population, and it is expected to increase due to the use of contact lenses, various surgeries for sight and the use of all kinds of screens. The techniques that are currently used to diagnose dry eye are subjective and invasive.

The new instrument for assessing the tear film is based on the analysis of degradation of the image of the corneal reflection. When the tear film is in good condition, the image of consistent light reflected on the cornea is regular and of good quality. However, when the tear film is broken the corneal reflection is degraded. Through the degradation of the image of the corneal reflex, the new method assesses the tear film and enables diagnosis of dry eye.

The prototype that has been developed is focused on daily clinical practice, in which the use of increasingly sophisticated tools is required that must also be economical and easy to use. Currently, laboratory and clinical measurements are being made with patients. This method has also been tested in the assessment of comfort of contact lenses, measuring the stability of the tear film in the lens. The prototype and the methodology are suitable for laboratory conditions and are evolving towards an operational instrument for a clinical environment.

The project has been funded with the support of the Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Business and Knowledge, with joint funding from the European Union through the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).



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