Nav: Home

New eye test could detect glaucoma years earlier

July 12, 2016

UNSW Australia scientists have developed a testing protocol that identifies the blinding eye disease glaucoma four years earlier than current techniques.

The patented method involves patients looking at small dots of light of specially chosen size and light intensity. An inability to see them indicates blind spots in the eye and early loss of peripheral vision.

A study assessing 13 patients using this improved technique for visual field testing has been recently published in the journal Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.

"Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in the world, and in the early stages patients usually have no symptoms and are not aware they are developing permanent vision loss," says Director of the UNSW Centre for Eye Health Professor Michael Kalloniatis.

"The cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure, but its progression can be slowed with eye drops or surgery to lower pressure in the eye. So, early detection and early treatment is vital for prolonging sight."

Glaucoma involves the slow destruction of the optic nerve at the back of the eye, with early loss mainly occurring in peripheral vision. More than 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, and the risks of the disease increase with age and family history.

Four tests are currently used to diagnose glaucoma: an eye pressure test, observation of the optical nerve, microscopic examination of the anterior eye, and visual field testing using a machine called a Visual Field Analyser.

The UNSW innovation involves an automated visual field analysis system that uses a pattern of differently sized spots, which takes into account the fact that the eye processes visual information away from central vision differently. Current visual field testing systems use just one test size to measure vision at different locations of the visual field.

The design has been patented in the US and the European Union, with the inventors named as Professor Kalloniatis, Dr Sieu Khuu of the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science, and Dr Noha Alsaleem, a former Masters student at UNSW.

When the UNSW approach was used to assess 13 patients with early glaucoma or optic nerve damage, and 42 people without eye disease, greater vision loss was detected in all patients than using the standard test.

"The current method of visual field testing, which uses just one dot size, is good but not ideal. Our test appears to be much more sensitive at detecting disease in an early stage. On average, we expect we will be able to detect glaucoma four years earlier than at present," says Professor Kalloniatis.

His team is currently using the new test to assess up to 30 more patients at the UNSW Centre for Eye Health. They would like to conduct a much larger clinical trial to determine its effectiveness.

"We hope our new approach will eventually be introduced around the world, and treatment can begin earlier to slow down vision loss in glaucoma," says Professor Kalloniatis.

The Centre for Eye Health is an initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and UNSW and provides state-of-the-art eye imaging and visual systems diagnostic services to the general community at no charge. It is well placed to carry out a clinical trial because it examines around 3000 patients a year with glaucoma or suspected glaucoma.
-end-


University of New South Wales

Related Glaucoma Articles:

Potential predictor of glaucoma damage identified
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a biomarker that appears linked to damage to cells in the retina of the eye.
New eye test detects earliest signs of glaucoma
Researchers at University College London (UCL) and the Western Eye Hospital have developed a simple, inexpensive diagnostic tool DARC (Detection of Apoptosing Retinal Cells).
Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice
In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease.
Stem cell secretions may protect against glaucoma
A new study in rats shows that stem cell secretions, called exosomes, appear to protect cells in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye.
Zika and glaucoma linked for first time in new study
A team of researchers in Brazil and at the Yale School of Public Health has published the first report demonstrating that the Zika virus can cause glaucoma in infants who were exposed to the virus during gestation.
Experimental drug, implanted in eye, could fight glaucoma
An experimental drug, consisting of cells manufactured and implanted in the eye to stimulate optic nerve growth and activity, could be an entirely new way of fighting glaucoma, according to BrightFocus Foundation.
Study in mice suggests stem cells could ward off glaucoma
An infusion of stem cells could help restore proper drainage for fluid-clogged eyes at risk for glaucoma.
Why apnea patients are prone to suffer from glaucoma
Scientists at Hokkaido University have successfully measured the eye pressure of sleeping patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome for the first time, finding an unexpected correlation with glaucoma.
New eye test could detect glaucoma years earlier
UNSW Australia scientists have developed a testing protocol that identifies the blinding eye disease glaucoma four years earlier than current techniques.
Promising new compound protects neurons and vision in mice with glaucoma
Early tests of a novel compound in mice with glaucoma should come as welcome news to millions of people around the world now suffering with this leading cause of vision loss.

Related Glaucoma Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...