Oculogica’s eye-tracking machine could tell you if you’ve had a concussion

Manhattan-based neurodiagnostics company Oculogica is developing eye-tracking technology to help with early diagnosis of concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injury. The company’s still working on a prototype device as it conducts early studies, but feels that it’ll eventually be able to provide a point-of-care solution for the recently concussed. Concussions are a hot-button topic these days, […]

Manhattan-based neurodiagnostics company Oculogica is developing eye-tracking technology to help with early diagnosis of concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injury. The company’s still working on a prototype device as it conducts early studies, but feels that it’ll eventually be able to provide a point-of-care solution for the recently concussed.

Concussions are a hot-button topic these days, given the growing awareness of how sports-related injuries can have some pretty deleterious effects down the road. But the incidence spreads of course past sports-related injury; millions of people the world over suffer from these mind-addling blows.

Though still being conceptualized, Version 1.0 of Oculogica’s device will be a mobile cart meant for emergency department use that has a computer monitor and a chin rest, and a camera that will track pupil movement. Ultimately the technology could be applied even to a smartphone or other mobile device with a camera, since the algorithm simply captures eye movement patterns, said Adrian Trevisan, the self-described “commercial guy” of the three-person startup.

The company is largely self-funded at present, as it explores Food and Drug Administration clearance options and “the whole reimbursement situation,” Trevisan said. Oculogica plans to approach the investor community once it nails down some tangible data that the algorithms work.

“So far, we’ve done a friends and family round, and we think that with that and grants we’ll be good to go until we need to start spending seriously on developing manufacturing for the device,” Trevisan said.

Oculogica has an eye tracking algorithm that can measure a person’s eye movements while they watch TV. Based on research by founder Uzma Samadani, a neurosurgeon at New York University, the company’s tech detects whether there is weakness in the specific cranial nerves that move the eye. Its preliminary data has found that uninjured subjects have what’s called a highly conjugated gaze — the eyes move in tight unison. By contrast, a concussed subject’s eyes are disconjugate, and the severity of the misalignment can be measured by the algorithm.

Right now, the diagnostic criteria for concussions is pretty primitive, Trevisan said. It’s full of subjective criteria such as vision, hearing and coordination testing, but it’s still pretty tough to accurately pinpoint mild to moderate concussions — leaving a whole bunch undiagnosed. This can, unfortunately, lead to a number of complications later on down the road — making the market pretty ripe for a more accurate diagnostic tool.

The company’s technology could also potentially measure for other brain conditions like hydrocephalus, heightened cranial pressure and dementia. The non-invasive test can be performed in just a few minutes.