Student Alon Berger (seated) wears the Technion-created device that can diagnose diseases based on eyelid motion. At right is lead researcher Adi Hanuka. (Credit: American Technion Society)

Researchers have developed a device that can diagnose diseases by means of an eyelid motion monitor. Glasses fitted with a hardware and software system monitor and interpret eyelid movements.

With approval of the Ethics Committee Regulations for Research Work Involving Human Participants, measurements of approximately 100 subjects have been collected in order to define the eyelid motion patterns (blinking speed and frequency) of a healthy person. Eyelid motions were analyzed using a signal-processing algorithm.

The team first examined blepharospasm dystonia, a disease characterized by involuntary contraction of the muscles responsible for closing the eyes. The researchers found a statistically significant quantitative relationship between a person’s eyelid pattern and the disease, which means that the device could be used to diagnose it. The system was also used to examine the effect of Botox injections, the conventional treatment for the disease, and it was found that within 15 minutes contractions decrease and the blinking pattern begins to match indices that exist among healthy people.

The researchers are also gathering information about other groups, including patients with dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Along with designing the product for purposes of commercialization, the researchers are working in several directions: developing the device as a platform for multidisciplinary research on various topics such as the effect of emotions on blinking patterns; eyelid communication amongst the paralyzed; and automatic diagnosis through machine learning and based on a computerized comparison between the specific monitoring and an extensive database.