Smartphone app rivals charts when testing eyesight

June 18, 2015

A smartphone lens adapter and app that allows users to conduct extensive eye exams on patients is as accurate as traditional charts, according to a recent study.

A smartphone lens adapter and app that allows users to conduct extensive eye exams on patients is as accurate as traditional charts, according to a recent study.

The Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) was created by a team of eye-care professionals, software developers, and product designers, and aims to increase access to high-quality eye care around the world.

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The kit-which is clipped over the camera of a smartphone to allow health workers to see inside the eye and capture high-quality images that can then be sent to physicians for diagnosis-was developed through collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Strathclyde, and the NHS Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic Research.

The recent study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, compared Peek’s acuity test to the Snellen acuity chart and the Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) log MAR chart.

Visual acuity testing was done on 233 Kenyan patients-aged 55 and older-in their own homes and was repeated in eye clinics based in Kenya.

Results showed that the smartphone app produced equally reliable tests as those from the standard paper-based chart and the illuminated vision box in an eye clinic.

Additionally, tests conducted in patients’ homes using Peek saw results that were on par to the clinical-level outcomes by the ETDRS and Snellen charts.

“(The test) removes the need for traditional ophthalmoscopes and bulky cameras, enabling examinations in any part of the world. Other conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure can be detected,” wrote Mashable.

Ophthalmology Times Board Member Pravid Dugel, MD, previously shared his thoughts on the technology.

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“(The kit) is terrific and it’s got great potential, . . . this will allow many more patients to have better healthcare access,” said Dr. Dugel, managing partner, Retinal Consultants of Arizona, Phoenix, and clinical professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “There’s not doubt in my mind that home-monitoring is going to be our next wave of how to manage our patients.”

Dr. Dugel, who is a consultant and minor shareholder for the smartphone app Digisite, which allows patients to check their vision, said technology such as Peek not only catch disease earlier, but can also be used to monitor patients’ progress and reduce treatment burden.

The researchers of the Kenyan study are currently conducting other studies to determine the suitability of the smartphone tool in different contexts across a range of different handsets and operating systems, including a trial involving teachers testing over 20,000 children, according to Medical Press.

 

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