A study led by a Twin Cities neurosurgeon claims that tracking the eye movement in people watching music videos or Disney clips can determine whether they have a brain injury.
Dr. Uzma Samadani, who is the Rockswold Kaplan Endowed Chair for Brain Injury Research lab at Hennepin County Medical Center and is an associate professor at the U of M, used an eye tracking camera she calls "Eye Box" to measure vertical and horizontal movements in 55 people with pressure in their skulls caused by bleeding, trauma, strokes or tumors.
Showing them music videos and Disney film clips for 220 seconds, the tech was able to identify when intercranial pressure is being caused, based on the function of nerves that rotate the eyeball, according to a release from HCMC.
Those suffering from some kind of pressure inside the skull have decreased lateral eye movements when watching the videos.
It means that the eye tracking technology, for which Dr. Samadani's company Oculogica has obtained worldwide rights (and of which HCMC is a shareholder), could be used to detect elevated skull pressure to determine if a patient has a condition like hydrocephalus or is particularly susceptible to concussions.
NASA, NFL could be interested
Dr. Samadani's findings were recently published in the Journal of Neurosurgery and could benefit millions of Americans with brain conditions, and help with earlier detection of elevated intercranial pressure which can lead to loss of cognitive functions and vision problems.
It also means that the tracking cranial pressure could be done in the future without a doctor having to drill a hole into your skull to monitor trauma, brain bleeds or tumors.
One of the interested parties in this technology is NASA, because astronauts who experienced prolonged periods of reduced gravity develop headaches and visual problems, thought to be caused by increased pooling of blood in the brain and elevated pressures inside the skull and eyes.
The Eye Box would provide a non-invasive way of checking skull pressure, seeing as there's no way you can drill into an astronaut's skull in space.
It could also prove to be an invaluable tool for the NFL as it could lead to quicker, more accurate concussion testing on the sidelines, with each Eye Box test taking less than four minutes.
At this stage it's not ready to be rolled out, with the Oculogica website stating it still needs to be cleared by the FDA.