Dizziness is a common condition but its underlying causes can be very difficult to diagnose. It is usually unpredictable and doesn’t last very long, so by the time a patient presents to the physician everything checks out as normal.
Detecting nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movements) is a pretty reliable way of diagnosing peripheral vestibular disorders, but the randomness and rarity of dizziness makes it difficult to notice nystagmus.
A team at the University of East Anglia has developed a wearable device, called Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment (CAVA), that is capable of accurately detecting nystagmus without looking directly at the eye. It features electrode sensors that stick to the side of the face and which can detect the electrical signals emanating from the eyeball. These signals are analyzed using a specially developed algorithm to identify instances of nystagmus.
In addition to detecting eye movement, the device also has an accelerometer built-in to continuously track the position of the head. This gives more actionable data on the condition of the patient and can be used to further fine tune the detection algorithm.
When tested with the help of clinicians at the Norwich University Hospital, the CAVA was 99% accurate at spotting nystagmus when induced artificially. Moreover, it was worn for up to a month by a group of 17 healthy volunteers from whom the researchers claim to have gathered the largest ever dataset of continuous eye movements.
Project page: CAVA Continuous Ambulatory Vestibular Assessment