Manchester researchers use airport camera to test impact of medicine on eye disease
Researchers at Central Manchester University
Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) hope their novel
application of an iris recognition camera - normally used by
airport security - will produce the first accurate assessment of a
condition that can cause children and young people to lose their
Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) diseases are a group of rare and
life-limiting conditions in which children are born without the
necessary enzymes to breakdown glycosaminoglycans, which occur in a
wide range of tissues. These substances are essential to normal
bodily functions, but when too many build up they cause a range of
symptoms that can be fatal before the child reaches adulthood,
including heart, bone, brain and eye issues.
Saint Mary's Hospital has made a
considerable contribution towards improving the life expectancy and
quality of life for children and young people with MPS in recent
years by delivering research to develop some of the first enzyme
replacement therapies (ERT). However, there is little evidence
available to establish the effect of these treatments on visual
impairment and blindness due to difficulties in being able to
accurately and consistently measure corneal clouding in this group
Dr Jane Ashworth, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH), is now
leading a trial that aims to provide the first accurate evidence as
to whether corneal clouding changes over time as a result of
treatments for MPS.
The researchers will also compare the ability of the Iris Camera
against a commercially available technology for measuring corneal
clouding: the Pentacam®. Preliminary work at MREH has shown that it
may be easier for clinicians to use the Iris Camera to assess
children with MPS, as some patients are afflicted by developmental
delay or physical disability that makes it difficult for them to
remain still through a Pentacam® assessment.
Dr Ashworth explained:
"The Iris Camera was developed with children and young people in
mind. It features friendly spoken instructions to help them
sit in the correct place, and it is lightweight and portable so
that it can be moved to the most comfortable position."
The study is currently recruiting 30 MPS patients, all of whom
already attend CMFT for regular eye appointments. The study
will inform ophthalmologists of best practice in managing the
visual symptoms experienced by patients with MPS in the future.
Ollie Moody from Drighlington, Bradford, has
Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome (MPS VI) which affects his eyesight. The
21-year-old is one of the patients who is taking part in the study.
I have had many eye examinations in the past, but have had no
real feedback around my level of corneal clouding and therefore if
the treatments I'm already taking are helping, slowing or stopping
the problems. I welcome the new camera technology and the
work the researchers are doing to help gain better feedback for
myself and other patients."
Ollie Moody and Dr Jane Ashworth
"Previously, corneal clouding could only be assessed by a
consultant manually looking into the eye, which made measurements
subjective, unreliable, and difficult to compare in order to see
whether treatment had an impact," explained Professor
Tariq Aslam, Consultant ophthalmologist at MREH and
Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at The University of Manchester,
who devised the software after being granted special access by
IrisGuard Inc. the world leader in Iris recognition technology with
many successful deployments around the world.
Dr Ahmed Javed, Clinical Research Fellow at MREH,
added: "The Iris Camera uses very safe Near Infra-Red (NIR)
technology to capture iris images that are considered the most
accurate in the industry. We are using those images to objectively
measure the density and extent of clouding and give it a score,
allowing us to accurately report on changes to the eye."
The trial, which is funded by Biomarin Pharmaceutical Inc.,
has already recruited its first patients and will run for three