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Funded Studies

Tracking Eye Movements and Pupil Responses as a Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarker in Parkinsonian Disorders

Study Rationale: We do not currently have accurate tests to diagnose Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the conditions which mimic it (atypical parkinsonism) at a very early stage. Similarly, we do not have ways to track with precision how these diseases progress. Tracking the eye movements and pupil responses of people with PD and atypical parkinsonism could reveal important information about an individual’s cognitive and motor function and provide a sensitive method of diagnosing and monitoring the course of these diseases.

Hypothesis: We hypothesize that measuring eye movements and pupil changes while people watch short video clips will differentiate PD and atypical parkinsonism at an early stage and allow us track and perhaps predict how the course of an individual’s disease will change over time.

Study Design: We will ask a large number of people with PD and atypical parkinsonism to watch brief video clips while we record eye movements and pupil responses. The approach is similar to changing the television channel every few seconds and observing viewers’ eyes as they search the new clip. We will compare the results we obtain from different disease cohorts and correlate them with the clinical features of PD and atypical parkinsonism. The findings will allow us to accurately differentiate between PD and atypical parkinsonism and to determine how eye movements vary among people with the same disease.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: If successful, this approach will have enormous impact on the assessment of people with PD. Eye tracking could become an important diagnostic tool, a prognostic marker for the early stages of disease and a method for monitoring disease progression in clinical trials.

Next Steps for Development: Once we can use eye tracking to differentiate between PD and atypical parkinsonism, we will follow a large number of individuals to see how their eye movements and pupil responses change over time. This approach could then be used to measure disease progression and treatment response in these conditions.


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