Eye Scan Technology to Detect THC Impairment

Stephen Andrews
26 Dec 2022

Police may soon be able to scan your eyeballs to see if you are driving while being high. The futuristic technology has been developed by a Montana-based company known as Gaize. The device is said to scan the user's eyes and relies on AI readings to detect THC impairment.

Law enforcement agencies have reportedly already shown interest in the device developed by Gaize. The instrument looks like a virtual reality headset. Cops would be able to place it on a driver suspected of toking weed, and then it would take a few moments before it signals whether the person has consumed any or not. 

The company's founder, Ken Fichtler, has said that the scan cannot be used as evidence in court. Instead, it would help state troopers to determine if someone is high and endangering road safety. Gaize cannot yet quantify impairment as a traditional breathalyzer does. Still, it can indicate if the driver is intoxicated enough for their eye to respond to stimulus differently than it usually would. 

"Studies have shown that cannabis behaves markedly differently than alcohol in the body. Therefore, tests that measure the amount of THC in blood, saliva, and breath are not accurate ways to measure active impairment," reads the Gaize website. 

"Gaize measures micro-movements of the eye, and is based on the existing science of Drug Recognition Expert eye examinations. Tests are performed in an automated fashion, eliminating errors and clearing the way for successful prosecutions," the website says. 

According to Fichtler, the scanning test is based on several studies conducted over the last four decades (the earliest study on how marijuana affects eye movement date back to the late 1970s). In addition, the Montana company has carried out a clinical trial of its own, with 350 participants to test its product. 

One of the most visible signs that a person has smoked cannabis is red eyes. It happens as a result of THC lowering blood pressure which dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow in the body. This causes blood vessels in the ocular area to expand, leading to redness or bloodshot eyes. 

But the Gaize device seems more adept, as it would indicate impairment even when the person doesn't visibly show with red eyes. 

"There's a lot of changes that happen and a lot of them happen at a scale that a human couldn't necessarily see unless they were looking close or even using a magnifying glass or something. Our product is sensitive enough that we can detect these really minute changes," Ficthler told the The High Times magazine in an interview.

"I am doing this because I see a distinct need at the federal level to have some product to detect impairment so we can keep roads safe," he said.  

Stephen Andrews