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Smart phone could help ‘prevent blindness’

Scientists have developed an adapted smartphone which can perform eye tests and diagnose vision-related problems. Peek-eye-exam using a smartphoneThe portable sight test kit called Peek was designed in collaboration with scientists at the University of St Andrews, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

The tool is currently being trialled in Kenya to see how effective it is in comparison to state-of-the-art hospital equipment. If successful, researchers believe that Peek could ‘revolutionise the prevention of blindness in low-income countries’.

The device consists of a mobile App and clip-on hardware which enables the smartphone to check spectacles prescription, diagnose cataracts and examine the back of the eye for disease. Requiring minimal training, the system stores contact information and GP’s data for each patient.

Peek was developed by a team which includes Dr Andrew Bastawrous from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of St Andrews’ Dr Mario Giardini and Dr Iain Livingstone from the Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic Research.

Dr Bastawrous, who is currently testing the device in Kenya, said: “Patients who need it most will never be able to reach hospital because they’re the ones beyond the end of the road. They don’t have income to find transport so we needed a way to find them.

“We hope that Peek will provide eye care for those who are the poorest of the poor. A lot of the hospitals are able to provide cataract surgery, which is the most common cause of blindness, but actually getting the patient to the hospitals is the problem.

“Peek allows the technicians to go to the patients’ homes, examine them at their front doors and diagnose them there and then.”

The development of Peek has been jointly funded by the British Council for the Prevention of Blindness, the Medical Research Council, Fight for Sight and the International Glaucoma Association.

Photography copyright of Peek

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