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Your Smartphone Now Stops Blindness, Too

As we pause to appreciate the people and pleasures in our lives, there’s something else we should be thankful for…

Technology!

Especially the kind of technology that changes or saves lives.

Here at Tech & Innovation Daily, we frequently cover such breakthroughs, profiling the pioneering companies working to bring fascinating, cutting-edge healthcare technology to the mass market.

For example:


And here’s another excellent innovation to add to the list…

The Mobile Doctor is in the House

If you asked people which of the five human senses is most important, I bet the majority of them would say sight.

Most of us take it for granted, too. And when we have problems, or need a checkup, it’s pretty straightforward to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor.

However, that’s not the case for millions of people in remote or poverty-stricken areas, who either can’t get to a doctor, or can’t afford one.

Enter, technology.

Specifically, the Portable Eye Examination Kit – or Peek.

And for patients unable to get to an eye doctor, well… as the name suggests, the doctor will come to them instead.

Developed by doctors at the University of St. Andrews, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic Research in Scotland, Peek basically turns an Android smartphone into a low-cost, mobile eye doctor, enabling a specialist to diagnose eye problems for thousands of people who otherwise wouldn’t receive care or treatment.

It’s a crucial innovation.

World Health Organization figures show that 280 million people are visually impaired – and 39 million of them are blind.

But much of it is preventable. As Peek’s development team member, Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, says, “80% of eye diseases that cause blindness could be avoided and the majority of those people who are blind live in low income countries like Kenya. The problem is usually getting the patient to the surgeon to do the operation… they don’t have income to find transport. So developing an app like this can connect those two.”

Indeed, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness describes Peek as “a potential huge game changer.”

So how does Peek work? Simple…

Please Look into the Phone

Similar to the tool used in an optometrist’s office, the phone’s flashlight illuminates the patient’s retina, which means the examiner can check for common ailments like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other retinal and optic nerve diseases. The camera captures the images, which are then emailed to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London for further evaluation.

The phone also performs regular eye tests, with the traditional vision chart appearing on the screen. It then stores the patient’s information for follow-up checks. Crucially, Peek also syncs with Google Maps to log the person’s location for such follow-ups. Check out the video below to see how it works…

In current tests across Kenya, Peek’s diagnoses have shown to be as effective as clinic-based optometrist methods. And the team believes providing this innovative eye care for what Bastawrous calls “the poorest of the poor” will significantly cut the rate of blindness and other vision problems in deprived areas.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving,

Marty Biancuzzo

Marty Biancuzzo

, Technology Analyst

View More By Marty Biancuzzo