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CATRA: Detection and Mapping of Cataracts Through an Interactive Approach

March 10, 2011
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This is the main research project I’ve been collaborating with during my stay at the MIT Media Lab. It’s the design of an optical device, plus a series of interaction techniques, which for instance can be devised in a smart phone, to detect and map cataract spots in the human eye. There’re many interesting aspects of this work, but the most important contributions to the scientific community are:

  • A co-design of optics and interactive software. Collimated beams of light scan through sub-apertures of the crystallin lens in order to screen for cataract opacities. There are no moving parts, to increase safety and accuracy of the technique, and the device can be composed of a smart phone with a clip-on attachment.
  • Four interactive methods to assess size, position, contrast and point-spread function (PSF) of cataracts in the human eye. There’s no need for a trained clinician since the interaction if very simple and based on straightforward visual tasks. These methods can also be used to detect opacities in other types of optical systems such as camera lenses.
  • A rendering module that simulates the vision of a cataract-affected eye, based on the real data extracted from the test on an individual. This image-based simulated rendering takes into account physical phenomena such as diffraction and depth-of-field, based on detailed eye parameters such as accommodation, pupil size, and the maps generated by our device in a cataract screening test.

We’ve got a paper accepted for SIGGRAPH ’11 describing the device, the interactive techniques, the simulated rendering, and also showing the results of our evaluations. From the paper abstract:

We introduce a novel interactive method to assess cataracts in the human eye by crafting an optical solution that measures the perceptual impact of forward scattering on the foveal region. Current solutions rely on highly-trained clinicians to check the back scattering in the crystallin lens and test their predictions on visual acuity tests. Close-range parallax barriers create collimated beams of light to scan through sub-apertures scattering light as it strikes a cataract. User feedback generates maps for opacity, attenuation, contrast and local point-spread functions. The goal is to allow a general audience to operate a portable high-contrast light-field display to gain a meaningful understanding of their own visual conditions. The compiled maps are used to reconstruct the cataract-affected view of an individual, offering a unique approach for capturing information for screening, diagnostic, and clinical analysis.

More information:

Official Website


Some images from the project:

Smart phone prototype

Smart phone prototype

Controlled evaluation

Controlled evaluation

Manually Operated Prototype

Manually Operated Prototype

Simulated Rendering of Cataracts-affected Vision

Simulated Rendering of Cataracts-affected Vision

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