Devices & Diagnostics

Serial entrepreneur’s noninvasive device uses eye to measure intracranial pressure

With about 1.7 million traumatic head injuries in the U.S. each year by the Center for Disease Control’s reckoning, there is an increasing demand for diagnostic tools that can rapidly identify head trauma. An early diagnosis is critical for earlier interventions and improved outcomes. Third Eye Diagnostics has received a $500,000 grant from the National […]

With about 1.7 million traumatic head injuries in the U.S. each year by the Center for Disease Control’s reckoning, there is an increasing demand for diagnostic tools that can rapidly identify head trauma. An early diagnosis is critical for earlier interventions and improved outcomes. Third Eye Diagnostics has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to advance its novel approach to getting an accurate measure for intracranial pressure through the eye.

The CerePass device resembles a small radar detection gun that police use to catch speeding motorists. The amount of pressure it puts on the eye is the equivalent of rubbing your eye, according to CEO Terry Fuller. The device works because of the correlation between intracranial pressure and pressure in the retinal vessels.

Anatomically the eye is an outgrowth of the brain since the central retinal artery and vein travel through the optic nerve to the retina. The brain and optic nerve are surrounded by cerebral spinal fluid. When intracranial pressure rises, the increased cerebral spinal fluid pressure compresses the brain and optic nerve. That increase in pressure changes blood flow and pressure in the retinal vessels in proportion to intracranial pressure.

It’s a less invasive approach than the current standard of care that can involve surgically inserting a sensor into the cranium, according to Fuller.

In addition to head injuries it could also help detect strokes and hydrocephalus.

Fuller sees two main applications for the device. He envisions it as a tool for first responders such as emergency technicians or combat medics. He also sees a need for it in hospital settings such as the emergency room, intensive care and the operating room. It could replace a brain scan because it could be delivered at the point of care. It could help physicians evaluate whether the patient needs to be admitted, watched for awhile in the ER or if they need to be prepped for surgery.

The company is just beginning a series A round in which it estimates it will raise $3 million to $5 million to give it sufficient funds to bring its product to market in about 1.5 years.

Startups have been developing new devices in response to the toughening stance on concussions and concerns about the short term and longterm medical problems they can cause. For instance, BioDirection uses nanowire technology to screen a drop of blood for two protein biomarkers that may indicate brain injury. Cerora’s MindReader headset to measure brain activity is being developed for high school and college athletics to detect sports-related injuries such as a concussion. The headset device has an EEG built into it.

Fuller points out that unlike many devices being developed, Third Eye Diagnostics’ approach provides more specific information. It not only detects intracranial pressure but can show how much there is.

Among the company’s backers are Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.