New technology to measure the field of vision in children and vulnerable people could be used to monitor and manage brain tumours, researchers have revealed..
Current testing devices depend on a patient's complete co-operation and involves keeping the head still, staring at a fixed point for several minutes.
Now, a new device which uses the patient's natural reactions to movement and light to analyse their visual field will allow them to move their head and will not require their feedback. It means patients whose visual field was previously impossible to examine will have the test for the first time, the company behind it said.
Visual field testing can detect problems in central and peripheral vision which may be caused by various medical conditions such as brain tumours and stroke.
The technology, known as saccadic vector optokinetic perimetry (SVOP), is being developed by a new company called i2eye Diagnostics launched by Edinburgh Bioquarter - an organisation bringing together medical research and investors.
Peter Estibeiro, i2eye's chief executive, said: "Our instrument is a generation ahead of anything else currently on the market and has enormous potential. One of its first applications is in the monitoring and clinical management of children with brain tumours, where it can aid the decision-making process potentially leading to a better outcome."
The device works by displaying a series of stimuli on a screen facing the patient and they have relatively free eye and body movement throughout the test. The non-contact eye-tracking technology follows the movements of the patient's eyes in response to the stimuli.
Points in their field of vision which have been seen and those which have not been are then calculated and a doctor can use this information to help in a diagnosis or to monitor progression of a disease or treatment.
Researchers hope the i2eye device will be able to test more than 90% of the population, including children under 12 months old. The technology was developed over five years by a clinical research team at the University of Edinburgh involving ophthalmologists, neurologists and medical physicists.
Mike Capaldi, commercialisation director at Edinburgh BioQuarter, said: "i2eye Diagnostics is a world-first product in a solid market with a clear need for this kind of instrument."