Lack of access to healthcare facilities is one of the major causes of blindness in remote areas. Now, a new smartphone application will soon change that. Developed by British ophthalmologists, the Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) app is likely to change the lives of thousands of people living with poor eyesight but without access to care in remote areas.
The clinical trials, conducted on 233 people in Kenya by a research team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, proved the app was just as effective as traditional eye charts used by optometrists. Instead of a static chart with letters that go from large to fine print, this acuity app displays a shrinking letter on a smartphone screen. Peek uses the smartphone camera equipped with a 3D printed adaptor and an acuity app to conduct eye examinations.
Project leader Andrew Bastawrous said, "The main reason for most people not getting eye treatment is simply that they don't access the services and that's usually because the services are so far away from them or are unaffordable. If we can detect people with blindness beforehand, we have a much greater chance of increasing awareness and ensuring an appropriate treatment."
Peek also utilizes the camera flash and auto-focus function to allow ophthalmologists or trained care workers to examine the patient's retina. Developers wrote on the Peek Vision website, "The high image quality means you can view cataracts clearly enough for treatment classification, detect signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and signs of nerve disease."
If this technology can be harnessed effectively, a smartphone costing a few hundred dollars could soon replace tools and equipment worth thousands of dollars.
The findings have been published in JAMA Ophthalmology.