(Don’t) Dry Your Tears

in Events, Lectures, News-ISS, Research, Research-ISS
March 26th, 2013

Dr. Kim Boyer of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a longtime researcher of computer vision and medical image analysis, visited Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series on March 20.

Dr. Kim Boyer of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a longtime researcher of computer vision and medical image analysis, visited Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series on March 20.

Long-time contact lens wearers often complain of dry eyes. Sometimes the pupils can feel scratchy and turn red, and in extreme cases, prescription eye drops are needed to relieve the pain.

Dr. Kim Boyer of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a longtime researcher of computer vision and medical image analysis, hopes to develop better treatments and therapies for dry eye syndrome.

The dryness occurs, he said, when a person isn’t properly producing tears, which help relubricate the eyes. The question is – when this is happening, where are the tears going?

“The answer to this is not well-understood,” said Boyer.

On March 20, Boyer visited Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series. He spoke about his joint research with Ph.D. student, Dijia Wu, concerning building an accurate fluid dynamics model of tears that could eventually result in both improved treatments and more effective products for treating dry eyes.

To collect their data, Boyer and Wu use a narrowband interferometer to capture video of tear movement.

“We shoot a narrow band of light into the eye which reflects on the surface of the tear or lens,” said Boyer.

From there, Boyer and Wu identify dry regions by watching the rings around the eyes.

From this information, the researchers have developed a new method for reconstructing the tear film surface over the wet regions. The tear film is important as it serves several purposes in one’s eye: it keeps it moist, creates a smooth surface for light to pass through, and provides protection from injury and infection. Boyer’s and Wu’s method to reconstruct it has already showed signs of effectiveness with synthetic and prelens tear film.

“We hope to continue working with our colleagues in optometry and fluid dynamics to develop a deeper understanding of tear film behavior,” said Boyer.

Boyer, the head of the Department of Electrical, Computer & Systems Engineering at RPI, has published over 100 papers and five books. He is also a former contacts wearer.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Listen to Dr. Kim Boyer explain his research on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

Boyer’s talk was the second in the three-part Spring 2013 Distinguished Lecture Series. The next talk features Professor Keren Bergman, chair of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. She will speak on the topic, “Scalable Computing Systems With Optically Enabled Data Movement.” Hear her on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at 4 p.m. in PHO211.