Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eye tests using smartphones - now an app can do it !

CHENNAI: Eye examinations using scary-looking equipments could soon be a thing of the past as technology has simplified it to an extent that soon eye testing can be done using smartphones.

A team of British eye care specialists have developed an application, Peek (Portable Eye Examination Kit) that turns a smart phone into a comprehensive eye exam tool.

"Over 40 million people suffer from visual impairment in third world countries. While four out of five of these cases can be treated, there are not enough ophthalmologists to identify the problem. The 'Peek' app can revolutionise eye testing as it takes high resolution images at a very low cost," said Dr Mario Giardini from the University of Strathclyde.

The medical expert, who was a part of the UK-India workshop on affordable medical diagnostics and devices, said, "Currently the app has been rolled out at schools in Kenya where masses are tested for cataract and glaucoma. We have plans of launching it in two locations in India, one in Hyderabad, and the other location is yet to be finalised."

Peek uses few simple methods in a smart phone to perform the tests. The phone's camera can be used to scan the lens of the eye, while the LED flash would illuminate the retina. An adaptor that can be clipped over the camera of the phone allows doctors to see inside an eye and capture images that can be sent to experts for diagnosis.

Dr Giardini said the app is very simple to use and even people without healthcare backgrounds can be trained to use the kit. "Another feature of the app is geo-tagging. The phone's GPS can be used to mark the location of someone the team has examined, so they can follow it up later," said the expert. All the data can be compiled into a patient record and sent wirelessly to a doctor.

However, Dr Giardini added that while 'Peek' can supplement eye testing, it can never replace a doctor.
For more information on how technology and wearable devices are changing healthcare you can view my presentation here

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