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New study finds iPhone displays ophthalmic images better than computers


In a study from Emory University in Atlanta, ophthalmologists rated the same images higher on iPhone screens than desktop computer screens.

Apple products have become particular popular in the medical community. A large percentage of eye care professionals are in possession of some sort of Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad, and often both. In a recent study, an iPhone 3G (two iPhone generations behind the current version) was compared to a desktop PC for the purpose of viewing images from patients. It was found that neuro-ophthalmologists rated images on the iPhone to be better than desktop images.

In the study, non stereoscopic, nonmydriatic, single-field photographs were taken for 350 patients with headaches, focal neurologic defect, visual changes, or high diastolic blood pressure. Results showed that, in reviewing the images, reviewers generally rated the same image higher on the iPhone than on the desktop computer screen.

The researchers, out of Emory University in Atlanta, were sure to note that the iPhone may not be the best tool for ophthalmologic diagnosis,

“We are not suggesting using the iPhone to screen for subtle conditions (e.g., diabetic retinopathy) or as a replacement for in-person ophthalmologic consultation. Rather, we believe the iPhone, and similar devices, in combination with nonmydriatic photography can complement ophthalmologic consultations in settings such as the emergency department by allowing for rapid and remote identification of obvious conditions affecting the posterior pole such as papilledema and malignant hypertension."

As previously mentioned, the iPhone used in the study (iPhone 3G) is two generations behind the current iPhone on the market, the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S has a "Retina" display screen with nearly double the pixels per inch (ppi) than the iPhone 3G (165 ppi vs 326 ppi, or 480x320 vs 960x640 resolution). So if the iPhone 3G's screen is rated higher than a regular LCD computer monitor, it's reasonable to assume than an iPhone 4S or the new iPad (with Retina display) would fair significantly better than either option.

In short, it may be time to start integrating your high resolution mobile devices in your daily work.

Study: Nonmydriatic Digital Ocular Fundus Photograph on the iPhone 3G: The FOTO-ED Study

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