Medgadget recently demoed RightEye’s vision tests with Dr. Jennifer Kungle, a provider at The Center for Vision Development, and worked with the beta version of the company’s at-home EyeQ Trainer. It was a great experience that this editor would recommend for patients going through vision rehabilitation or individuals seeking a more vivid understanding of their vision.
Following up on the product review, we had a chance to dive deeper into the technology and clarify some lingering questions with Dr. Melissa Hunfalvay, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at RightEye.
Medgadget: Where did the idea for RightEye come from? What was the catalyst that instigated the need to develop something beyond the standard of care?
Dr. Melissa Hunfalvay: As a doctorate student in kinesiology, I read a book about where the best soccer players are looking with their eyes to optimize their play. I thought it would be interesting to apply these eye-movement concepts to tennis. I actually played on the pro tennis circuit. What I discovered is that the old adage of “keep your eye on the ball” is a fallacy. The best players look for indicators, such as their opponent’s shoulder movement, to anticipate where the ball will be going before they look at the ball. The ball is a cue that is important only later as a reactive cue, not one that helps with anticipation. The pros don’t necessarily have faster reaction times because of stronger muscles, but because of where they are looking.
After graduation, I started a consulting practice to help all kinds of athletes, medical professionals, and military personnel improve their abilities by training their eyes. Then in 2012, I met Adam Gross, who had already been a successful entrepreneur. Based on a fortuitous meeting together, Adam also became excited about what I was doing and recognized, through his research, the broader health implications of eye-tracking and how it could be built into a product for general healthcare. The result was RightEye.
Medgadget: The eye tracking technology built into the RightEye console is awesome! Can you tell us more about how it works, how it finds my eye, and how it knows when my eyes move and where they are focused?
Dr. Hunfalvay: Our primary intellectual property is in the software, logic, formulas and analytics. In fact, we already have multiple patents for this. We work with a third-party company to develop the eye-tracking hardware. A projector creates a pattern of near-infrared light on the eyes. The sensors then take high-frame-rate images of the user’s eyes, where image processing details the user’s eye patterns and gaze to show where they are looking.
Medgadget: I learned even more about my results from the RightEye tests at home, after the session, including how I stacked up against others in my age group. Since RightEye is relatively young, where does this population-level data come from?
Dr. Hunfalvay: Even though RightEye is a young company, we already have close to 100,000 data sets, which is more than a large enough sample size to quantify the normative age ranges. To our knowledge, RightEye already has the largest eye-tracking patient data set in the world and we’re just getting started. We are the only company doing not only data collection and visualization for a handful of metrics, but also comparing these to patient populations with a level of granularity not seen before. RightEye has 538 unique metrics used in our analysis; exponentially more than any other system. While some products are purposely built for reading, concussion, or other specific uses, RightEye is the first commercialized eye-tracking system for general healthcare.
Medgadget: The at-home EyeQ Trainer appears to be RightEye’s latest new offering. What led to an interest in going beyond the clinic to provide patients with tools to train at home?
Dr. Hunfalvay: We heard feedback from primary care doctors that they loved the RightEye test results, but weren’t always sure what to do next to help their patients. EyeQ Trainer provides them a solution. EyeQ Trainer exercises address many of the common functional vision issues that optometrists are likely to see in their practice, such as problems with the eyes working together. These exercises can be provided by a primary care optometrists to supplement training and improve care for the patient. These exercise can be done at home at times that are most convenient for the patient.
Medgadget: Before getting into the EyeQ Trainer, I noticed a number of exercises specifically focused on athletes and sports skills. Where did all this sports content come from? Is this content available to all users, not just athletes?
Dr. Hunfalvay: These sports vision exercises are available to anyone who takes a Sports Vision EyeQ test. These exercises are based on scientific perceptual-cognitive principles known to improve performance for athletes in certain tasks.
Medgadget: Who is the intended audience, or target market, for RightEye in terms of both patients and providers?
Dr. Hunfalvay: Today, RightEye is mostly used by Primary Care Optometrists, Speciality Optometrists, Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, Functional Neurologists, and Sports Trainers. However, in addition, we ultimately see RightEye in every ophthalmology, neurology and primary care physician’s office. After all, what human wouldn’t want to take a 5-minute brain health test as part of their regular check-up?
Medgadget: How does the EyeQ Trainer assign at-home exercises to patients? When using the EyeQ Trainer, I was prompted to complete an exercise that matched a test I took during my in-clinic session (i.e. horizontal pursuit). Is there an underlying algorithm that assigns EyeQ Trainer exercises based on patient strengths and weaknesses or other aspects of their performance?
Dr. Hunfalvay: EyeQ Trainer exercises are assigned based a person’s lowest performance indicator in the RightEye EyeQ test. EyeQ Trainer exercises were developed and are assigned based on the scientific principles found in the book The Neurology of Eye Movements, written by Dr. Leigh of Case Western University and Dr. Zee of Johns Hopkins University. All of these exercises are scientifically validated through Drs. Lee’s and Zee’s research, as well as decades of research from others. These exercises are used daily in many clinical practices throughout the country. As a result, RightEye EyeQ Trainer has the ability to address common functional vision issues that impact the lives of millions, which cause headaches, attention issues, vestibular challenges, reading problems and other known challenges related to vision dysfunction.
Medgadget: When using the EyeQ Trainer, I completed three sets of four exercises, 90 and 60 minutes apart, all for horizontal pursuits. The following day I completed one set of the same four exercises for horizontal pursuits. Is this repetition intentional? How many days of exercises are assigned?
Dr. Hunfalvay: The repetition is intentional. Each user is assigned the same exercises twice a day for five days and progresses in level of difficulty. Following the sequential five day regimen, the patient should revisit their doctor to retest with RightEye, which will show the doctor what progress has been made and if additional therapy is needed.
Medgadget: Is there a point at which I can pick and choose which exercises to work on in the EyeQ Trainer?
Dr. Hunfalvay: No. The EyeQ Trainer exercises are determined by the quantitative analysis of the patient’s eye movement dysfunction, so patient’s shouldn’t arbitrarily pick and choose which exercises they think they should use. However, doctor’s may supplement the EyeQ Trainer exercises with traditional vision therapy programs.
Medgadget: Dr. Kungle shared that there are currently no tools for providers to see patient engagement and adherence with their EyeQ Trainer exercises. Is there any demand for, or anything in development, related to giving providers insight into how their patients are using at-home exercises?
Dr. Hunfalvay: Yes, this is in the plans. There will be a summary report provided to doctors across all of their patients, which they can schedule to be sent to them at any interval. They will also be able to view in a progress dashboard of their patient population. This will be available in a later release.
Medgadget: Thank you so much for your responses. To wrap up, what’s next for RightEye?
Dr. Hunfalvay: We have many ideas about where we will take RightEye. Sometime in the future, we see RightEye as part of every person’s annual physical exam. Furthemore, we have a number of research initiatives currently underway, including the application of RightEye to help people with Autism and Parkinson’s disease.
Link: RightEye homepage…