Thrasher Research Fund Study Evaluates New Eye Movement Tracking Method For Detection of Hydrocephalus

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eye-trackingMost people know that advances in eye movement tracking have impacted mobile technology and video games immensely in the last few years. In the Departments of Ophthalmology and Neurosurgery at New York University, similar eye-tracking technology is being developed to enable a correlation between eye movements and brain function. Since ancient Greek times, and contemporary with the earliest writings and pictures of hydrocephalus, there have been descriptions of abnormal eye movements in people afflicted by hydrocephalus.
Before the era of modern imaging with CT and MRI scans, entire textbooks were dedicated to the diagnosis of hydrocephalus and other brain disorders by study of eye movements.

The study sponsored by the Thrasher Research Fund tests a new method of eye movement tracking technology to determine if it can assess the function of the nerves impacted by hydrocephalus that are responsible for vision and movement of the eye. The method consists of having the child watch a 3 to 4 minute video (e.g. cartoons) as it moves in a set trajectory while a camera records the child’s eye movements. The figure below demonstrates that a normal adult control makes a rectangular pattern with their eye movements, while a subject with unilateral hydrocephalus (yellow arrow, on the CT scan) due to a small bleed in the brain, has an abnormal tracking pattern (yellow arrow on eye tracking).

eye study graphic


Be a part of the study!

If you live in the Manhattan area and are interested in participating in the study, please read the guidelines below. The study enrolls 3 groups of subjects:

  1. People age 7 to 25 without hydrocephalus or a history of neurologic problems (to serve as study controls).
  2. Healthy and neurologically well people age 7-25 who have been shunted or undergone endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) for a diagnosis of hydrocephalus (so that we can understand the baseline eye movements of these children)
  3. Patients age 7-25 with suspected shunt malfunctions (if stable) before and after shunt revision.

Participants in the study must have an ability and interest in watching television or a video and must be able to see well enough to view it.  People who participate in this study will still need to have conventional methods of medical care as this method is purely experimental.

Study Site:
Room 5W55 New Bellevue Hospital
Department of Ophthalmology
462 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Uzma Samadani, MD PhD
Shaun Rodgers, MD
Jeffrey Wisoff, MD
Howard Weiner, MD PhD
David Harter, MD
R. Theodore Smith, MD PhD

For information about enrolling in the study please contact Marleen Reyes at or call: (646) 501-6846 or (347) 213-7791.

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