Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine have developed two low-cost iPhone adapters that provide images of the eye that usually require specialist ophthalmology equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. The university hopes that it will be useful both for primary care physicians in the U.S. as well as rural medical centres in developing countries.
The adapters make it easy for anyone with minimal training to take a picture of the eye and share it securely with other health practitioners or store it in the patient’s electronic record.
“Think Instagram for the eye,” said one of the developers, assistant professor of ophthalmology Robert Chang, MD …
The device shines a light through the lens of the eyeball which is reflected back, where a magnifying lens focuses an image on the camera, allowing it to capture detailed photos of both the front and back of the eye. Images can be almost instantly added to medical records for later review by a specialist, or can be transmitted from a primary care worker in a remote area to a specialist who can provide advice on the medical attention required for an eye injury.
“Adapting smartphones for the eye has the potential to enhance the delivery of eye care — in particular, to provide it in places where it’s less accessible,” said ophthalmology resident David Myung, MD, PhD. “Whether it’s in the emergency department, where patients often have to wait a long time for a specialist, or during a primary-care physician visit, we hope that we can improve the quality of care for our patients, especially in the developing world where ophthalmologists are few and far between.”
The prototypes were made from components commonly available online, and it’s hoped that 3D printing will reduce the cost even further.