Researchers Develop A Reliable App to Diagnose Dry Eye Disease

Researchers Develop A Reliable App to Diagnose Dry Eye Disease

September 30, 2022

A research team— led by Professor Akira Murakami and Associate Professor Takenori Inomata of the Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine— has developed DryEyeRhythm, a non-invasive and reliable mobile app to assess dry eye disease.  

"DryEyeRhythm leverages the cameras in smartphones to measure users' blink characteristics and determine maximum blink interval (MBI)—a substitute for tear film breakup time, an important diagnostic criterion of DED," explains Associate Prof. Inomata. "The app also administers Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaires, which are also a crucial component of DED diagnosis."

To verify the usefulness of the app, the research team carried out a prospective, cross-sectional, observational, single-center study. The findings of this study were published in The Ocular Surface.

Graphic showing diagnostic accuracy of DryEyeRhythm

The study

The researchers enrolled 82 patients who visited the Juntendo University Hospital's ophthalmology outpatient clinic between July 2020 and May 2021 and were at least 20 years old. The participants conducted evaluations for MBI using the app and other analysis methods, as well as completing the OSDI questionnaire in Japanese (J-OSDI).

The app also showed good positive and negative predictive values, with 91.3% and 69.1%, respectively. The area under the Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve—a measure of clinical sensitivity and specificity—for the concurrent use of the app-based J-OSDI and MBI was also high, with a value of 0.910. These results demonstrate that the app is a reliable, valid, and moreover non-invasive, instrument for assessing DED.

"Non-contact and non-invasive DED diagnostic assistance, like the kind provided by DryEyeRhythm, could help facilitate the early diagnosis and treatment of patients, as well as, DED treatment through telemedicine and online medical care," says Associate Prof. Inomata. The research team plans to further validate its results by conducting a multi-institutional collaborative study in the future. They are also planning to obtain medical device approval and insurance reimbursement for the smartphone application.

What is dry eye disease?

Dry eye disease (DED) is a condition characterized by an array of symptoms, including dryness, ocular discomfort, fatigue, and visual disturbances. This condition has become more prevalent in recent years as a result of an aging society, higher screen time, and a highly stressful social environment.

There are over 1 billion DED patients globally. DED that is left undiagnosed and untreated can cause a number of symptoms, such as ocular fatigue, light sensitivity, poor vision, and a decreased quality of life. Given the condition's extensive prevalence, this may also result in decreased productivity at work and financial loss.