A team of five seniors made a portable unit that controls the air around a patient's eyes so doctors can study and treat those who suffer from this painful condition.
Stephen Pflugfelder, the James and Margaret Elkins Chair and professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine's Cullen Eye Institute, approached Rice to invent a device to help clinicians standardize a testing regime for dry eye.
"He wanted a way to control temperature, humidity and air flow all around the eyes and record it over time so he could track changes in their dryness," said Daniel Hays, a member of Team ClimaTears, the student group that included Austin Edwards, Amanda Shih, Anastasia Alex and Michelle Kerkstra.
The students' solution incorporates a modified and padded set of laboratory goggles with embedded data sensors that monitor temperature, relative humidity, air flow and blink rate over an hour and a half. A cable carries data saved every 10 seconds to a small box that includes controls and conditioning equipment. A separate hose carries air to the goggles.
The goggles keep the humidity of air around the eyes between 40 and 15 percent -- "about as low as we can go without hurting patients," Alex said.
"We're exacerbating the symptoms so doctors can see them," Hays explained.
Normal patients will produce tears, he said, but those who suffer dry eye will exhibit symptoms, which will give clues about how to treat them. Follow-up sessions with the goggles will let doctors see how well the treatment is working.
"With this, we're putting the power in the hands of clinicians, which is very appealing to them," Shih said.
"We did a lot of research on the ocular test they currently perform to help us analyze the data we collected," Alex said. "We know there's still a lot to be done."
"We hope our device will create a gold standard for diagnosis," Kerkstra said.
The team and Pflugfelder spent two weeks this spring testing patients at the Alkek Eye Center in Houston and will continue this summer. The students hope the larger trial will lead to an academic paper -- a fine reward for spending nearly 2,000 hours developing the goggles over the course of their final year at Rice.
Their work has already paid dividends. The students won the grand prize, $1,500, in the second annual Rice Alliance-George R. Brown School of Engineering Senior Design Elevator Pitch Competition last November, and more recently $500 for the Best Health-Related Engineering Design Project at the School of Engineering Design Showcase held April 14.
The team's faculty advisers were Renata Ramos, a Rice lecturer in bioengineering, and Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, where the goggles were developed.
David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses