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Mania in the Eyes Study

Southern Methodist University

An estimated 4-6 % of people throughout the world are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Southern Methodist University (SMU) is conducting a research study to help those affected by bipolar disorder learn to detect and ultimately manage mania through observing changes in the eyes. Please read this homepage fully for information on the study. You only have to read the information once! There is also a consent form to read before you can anonymously sign in below to submit your pictures.

About the Study

Bipolar disorder is a genetic illness that affects a person’s ability to self-regulate their mood. Episodes of mania and depression, along with anxiety, irritation, focus problems, and psychosis are common. This study seeks to show that mania can be recognized through measurable changes in the eyes. Manic episodes are difficult to manage because, for many people, there is an inherent lack of insight into what signifies the beginning and end of the episode and physiological triggers are sometimes hard to be aware of immediately. Specific eye patterns that show mania could be used to help a person in a manic episode recognize the need for help and accept treatment. Pointing out physical changes to the body reinforces the idea that bipolar disorder has physiological underpinnings and removes the stigma that bipolar is "simply an emotional problem."

The first objective of the study is to create an anonymous database of pictures of the eyes of people in a manic episode. The research team will then use this information to create an algorithm (think of this like creating an app) to determine if eyes in an image can be automatically classified as manic or not. If the algorithm can identify mania in the eyes, mania identification can become computerized and used by people with bipolar disorder, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to determine when individuals with bipolar disorder are experiencing manic episodes. The ultimate goal is to determine if mania in bipolar disorder is part of an illness that can be measured by physical characteristics.

How you can help

If you have bipolar disorder, we need your photos! Our goal is to create a database of 1000 photos of the eyes of people in a manic episode. This will help us produce results that provide evidence demonstrating our hypothesis that a manic episode is a physically measurable symptom of a physical illness. If you are a loved one of a person with bipolar disorder, we do want your help. Please know that pictures of eyes when you are in a hypomanic episodes are definitely accepted. Mania is mania. Hypomanic just means it is a milder form of mania as compared to full blown mania. Bipolar two has hypomania. Bipolar one has hypomania and full blown mania. There are two different types of mania: euphoric and dysphoric. We are looking for pictures of all levels and types of mania. Please note: you will need the permission of the person in the picture in order to upload the photos.

Your Participation is Anonymous

Photos submitted to this website are of the eyes only and will not show any other facial features. All submissions are anonymous. No information is collected regarding names or other readily identifiable information. Your computer information will not be collected and there is no way to associate you with the photograph once it is submitted.

When you sign in to the website and create a username, you are simply giving us a way to anonymously label your pictures using the username you choose. We ask that you choose a unique username so that you can upload images to our system multiple times. Please do NOT use your real name or any identifiable information as your username. The username you choose should not reveal anything about you, but should be something you can remember. It could be as simple as a number or your favorite word. If you forget your username, there is no way to look it up. This is because signing in to this website does not save any of your personal information. Please write down your username as soon as it is created. If you forget your name and want to submit more photos, it is no problem. Simply create a new user name.

Submitting Your Photos is Simple

You will be asked to upload a photo from any time in your life that represents a manic episode. You can create a photo on your cell phone in the moment to add to the study. You can also take a picture of an older photograph as long as the eyes are clear. All cropping is done online. You will be asked to anonymously answer a few questions to help us assess the type of manic episode you were experiencing during the time of the photo as well as questions about medication use. Please note you can also upload photos from a depression episode or when you were stable. We will use these for comparison in the study. Before submitting your photos, you will be required to read and digitally sign a consent form that is for your protection. All participants in the study must be 18 years of age or older.

Photograph Checklist

  • All participants in this study must be at least 18 years old.
  • Photos must be clear and include both eyes.
  • Your face should be facing forward and looking directly at the camera.
  • Photos can only be submitted by the person in the photo. If you are assisting a loved one to upload a photo to this site, your loved one must give their consent by signing the consent form.
  • Although flash can alter the eyes, we are not ruling out flash photos. If a flash was used, you can let us know by checking the question regarding lighting you will find on the submission page.