Technological enhancements to optometric clinical tests

  • Alec Kingsnorth

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A sizeable amount of the testing in eye care, requires either the identification of targets such as letters to assess functional vision, or the subjective evaluation of imagery by an examiner. Computers can render a variety of different targets on their monitors and can be used to store and analyse ophthalmic images. However, existing computing hardware tends to be large, screen resolutions are often too low, and objective assessments of ophthalmic images unreliable.
Recent advances in mobile computing hardware and computer-vision systems can be used to enhance clinical testing in optometry. High resolution touch screens embedded in mobile devices, can render targets at a wide variety of distances and can be used to record and respond to patient responses, automating testing methods. This has opened up new opportunities in computerised near vision testing. Equally, new image processing techniques can be used to increase the validity and reliability of objective computer vision systems.
Three novel apps for assessing reading speed, contrast sensitivity and amplitude of accommodation were created by the author to demonstrate the potential of mobile computing to enhance clinical measurement. The reading speed app could present sentences effectively, control illumination and automate the testing procedure for reading speed assessment. Meanwhile the contrast sensitivity app made use of a bit stealing technique and swept frequency target, to rapidly assess a patient’s full contrast sensitivity function at both near and far distances. Finally, customised electronic hardware was created and interfaced to an app on a smartphone device to allow free space amplitude of accommodation measurement.
A new geometrical model of the tear film and a ray tracing simulation of a Placido disc topographer were produced to provide insights on the effect of tear film breakdown on ophthalmic images. Furthermore, a new computer vision system, that used a novel eye-lash segmentation technique, was created to demonstrate the potential of computer vision systems for the clinical assessment of tear stability.
Studies undertaken by the author to assess the validity and repeatability of the novel apps, found that their repeatability was comparable to, or better, than existing clinical methods for reading speed and contrast sensitivity assessment. Furthermore, the apps offered reduced examination times in comparison to their paper based equivalents. The reading speed and amplitude of accommodation apps correlated highly with existing methods of assessment supporting their validity. Their still remains questions over the validity of using a swept frequency sine-wave target to assess patient’s contrast sensitivity functions as no clinical test provides the range of spatial frequencies and contrasts, nor equivalent assessment at distance and near. A validation study of the new computer vision system found that the authors tear metric correlated better with existing subjective measures of tear film stability than those of a competing computer-vision system. However, repeatability was poor in comparison to the subjective measures due to eye lash interference.
The new mobile apps, computer vision system, and studies outlined in this thesis provide further insight into the potential of applying mobile and image processing technology to enhance clinical testing by eye care professionals.
Date of Award12 Mar 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorJames Wolffsohn (Supervisor)


  • enhancements
  • optometric clinical tests

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