Taking a selfie 'could help detect if you have Alzheimer's or ADHD'
3rd May 2022

YOUR selfie-taking may come in useful for detecting serious diseases.

Scientists say imaging of your eye can show signs of Alzheimer’s, as well as ADHD.

Pupil size can provide information about a person’s neurological functions, recent research has shown.

For example, the pupils get bigger (dilate) when a person performs a difficult cognitive task or hears an unexpected sound.

A pupil response test can measure changes in pupil size, giving clues about a person’s brain function.

But it is currently only available in a clinical setting using expensive instruments.

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Researchers at the University of California San Diego have now made such tests possible in the home.

They have developed a smartphone app that records closeups of a person’s eye.

Colin Barry, an electrical and computer engineering PhD student at UC San Diego, said: “I am excited about the potential for using this technology to bring neurological screening out of clinical lab settings and into homes.

“We hope that this opens the door to novel explorations of using smartphones to detect and monitor potential health problems earlier on.”

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In a paper co-authored by Mr Barry, researchers explained how the app technology works.

The app uses a near-infrared camera, which is built into newer smartphones for facial recognition.

It also requries the user to take a regular selfie with their camera.

Experts said the app can calculate pupil size with sub-millimeter accuracy across various eye colours.

Measurements were comparable to those taken by a device called a pupillometer, which is the gold standard for measuring pupil size.

Eric Granholm, a psychiatry professor at UC San Diego Scool of Medicine, said the product can “aid in the detection and understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease”.

Used as a screening tool, it “could have a huge public health impact”, he said.

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Older adults are most at risk of developing Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia.

Therefore, the research team tested their app in a group of elders to make sure it was user friendly for them.

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