Can eye diseases be diagnosed without contact?

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Digital twin of the eye for computer-based parameter extraction.

Research: Eye diseases have a particularly negative impact on the quality of life of those affected. Most diseases have a progressive course and result in irreversible damage to eye structures. If such diseases are detected early, their progression can be slowed or even halted.

In the joint research project "EyeTwin", scientists from Fraunhofer IKTS and the Faculty of Medicine at Dresden University of Technology investigated eye diseases that are associated with altered biomechanical properties of the cornea. The project focused on two diseases. The first was keratoconus, a disease in which the cornea becomes irregularly bulging and thinner. The second was glaucoma, a multifactorial disease with loss of nerve fibers that leads to visual field defects. Both diseases are associated with altered biomechanical properties of the cornea, which can be determined using a special air pulse tonometer.

To determine the corneal properties, a defined force must be applied to the cornea and cause a measurable deformation. Air pulse tonometers in combination with high-speed cameras are particularly suitable for this purpose. A virtual twin modeled from the data obtained then makes it possible to translate the complex corneal behavior into characteristic values of the corresponding corneal components, which can be interpreted using computer-aided methods.


The most important results:

  • The virtual twin allows the unambiguous identification of the material characteristics of the cornea (collagen fiber stiffness, stiffness of the ground substance, etc.).
  • To detect changes in micromechanics at an early stage, the underlying deformation fields must be recorded with an accuracy of 1 µm.


Project period: December 2019 – March 2022

Project partner: Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Medicine

Funding agency: Sächsische Aufbaubank – Förderbank – (SAB)

Funding: European Union funding from the ERDF fund