Scottsdale, Arizona - The use of small, portable eye-tracking devices in cockpits could be a future additional safeguard for pilots and other safety critical operators, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the July issue of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine.

Eye movement metrics have been recognized as promising indicators of altered cognitive performance caused by hypoxia at high altitudes. Hypoxia is a lower than normal level of oxygen in your blood. To function properly, your body needs a certain level of oxygen circulating in the blood to cells and tissues. When this level of oxygen falls below a certain amount, hypoxia can cause a variety of symptoms including shortness of breath, impaired speech, slowed reaction time and passing out which can be a safety threat at high altitudes.