Smartphone-based visual tests for MS patients show promise



– A battery of smartphone-based tests has been developed to help detect visual pathway disturbances in MS patients and to follow them over time.

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“One of the ideas is, can you design something that’s so easy to use and quick that it’s not a burden on the patient?” Randy H. Kardon, MD, PhD, said in an interview at the meeting held by the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis. “The other was to test a couple of different modalities. By that I mean we test visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and critical flicker fusion, which is a way of measuring the speed of conduction of nerves in the visual system.”

Dr. Kardon, professor of neuro-ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, worked with colleagues from Aalborg University, Denmark, to study these tests and a novel measure known as the vanishing optotype on 117 patients with MS and 103 age-matched controls. They found that the tests “very nicely discriminated between normal eyes from patients that had MS,” said Dr. Kardon, director of the Iowa City VA Center for Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss. “Furthermore, we could determine which eyes from the MS patients had previous optic neuritis and which eyes hadn’t. We’re now looking for partners to go forward with larger studies to validate it further and refine these tests even more.”

Dr. Kardon disclosed that he has received funding from the National Eye Institute, the Department of Defense, and from VA Rehabilitation Research and Development. He was also a member of the Novartis steering committee for the OCTiMS study and is a cofounder of MedFace and FaceX.

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