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!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy