Eyecatcher 2: an eye-tracking system for detecting and monitoring eye conditions linked to older age.

Research details

  • Type of funding: Project Grant
  • Grant Holder: Professor David Crabb
  • Institute: City, University of London
  • Region: London
  • Start date: November 2016
  • End Date: April 2019
  • Priority: Quality of Life
  • Eye Category: Glaucoma


Whenever you look around a room or watch TV – anytime you look at the world – your eyes make quick jumps from looking at one place to looking at another. These movements are called saccades. In between saccades are ‘fixations’, when the eyes are stable. A ‘scanpath’ is the name for a sequence of fixations and saccades.

In a previous Fight for Sight-funded project, the research team showed that scanpaths recorded by a special camera while people watch TV are different for people with glaucoma compared to people with healthy vision. The team developed a computer programme called Eyecatcher to do the analysis.

In this project the team is testing Eyecatcher on a larger group of people, in other eye disorders and under different conditions, to see how well it works. They have 8 different questions they want to answer, including whether Eyecatcher can pick up holes, or blind spots in people’s vision (scotomas). This wasn’t tested in the original study. They’re also looking at how well Eyecatcher works when people watch different types of films, and when it’s used on different equipment. During the project they will develop Eyecatcher Lite as an inexpensive version of the software to run on a tablet computer. If it works and people like using it, the research team will make it available to Peek for free.
  • Scientific summary

    Eyecatcher 2: An eye tracking platform for detecting and monitoring age–related eye disease    

    An increasing elderly population will cause an ‘epidemic’ of undetected age-related eye disease in the 21st century. The research team believes there is a need for disruptive technology that will better test and monitor visual function in these people.

    A whole series of visual processes coalesce in order to allocate gaze efficiently; so it seems reasonable that gaze patterns might be inhibited or be altered by visual disorders. This notion underpins their driving hypothesis that scanpaths from gaze patterns might provide a test for scotoma (missing parts of vision).

    Using novel methodology (Eyecatcher) the team has shown that features extracted from scanpaths made whilst watching TV clips can be quantified to correctly differentiate a group of glaucoma patients from a group of age-similar healthy people. Following this successful one-year proof-of-concept work (funded by Fight for Sight) they now aim to develop Eyecatcher as a ‘working’ method for detecting and monitoring scotoma in eye disease.

    Three connected work streams consisting of more lab based studies, methodology development and deployment of Eyecatcher into clinical environments will be carried out over a two-year period. This work will generate evidence to test eight connecting hypotheses that will further understanding of Eyecatcher. They also aim to implement the principles of Eyecatcher on a clinically usable platform for detecting scotoma using inexpensive ‘mobile’ eye tracking technology (Eyecatcher Lite). These clinical tests will require little patient action beyond the passive viewing of movies or simply looking at stimuli on a tablet computer.