Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have invented low-cost adaptors that, once connected to smartphones, can allow the users to take pictures with a high resolution of the front and the back of their eyes quickly with little training needed. This is supposed to have an immense potential to revolutionize eyecare.
Currently, the best known way to capture the image of the eyes is with expensive equipment which can be found in big hospitals or optical clinics. Such devices are too expensive for regular users, not to mention considerable training is needed to use it properly, and therefore is not widely accessible especially in the rural areas throughout the world.
The concept of the invention is a pocket-sized adaptor that is equipped onto the phone with a lens and lighting elements that facilitate the capture of images from both the front and back of the eye. The initial prototype was created using components that can be only purchased on the internet. They focused on taking the photos of the front of the eye before making their way out how to image the back of the eye – also known as the retina.
Together with the proliferation of smartphone usage, this invention is believed to bring about a revolution in eyecare – or so-called ‘tele-ophthalmology’ – once successful. By allowing the users to picture their eyes in high resolution within a matter of seconds and swiftly transferring the image to their doctor, this adaptor can help ophthalmologists to provide eye advice remotely to the places where it was previously less accessible. It can streamline the workflow in emergency rooms where the queue is often too long. This is in contrast to sending a written record with a description about the injury of the eye – a picture clearly and instantly showing the situation is priceless.
The researchers have managed to get the production cost of each unit of the adaptor and they are still reaching their goal of lowering this price. Can you imagine this technology being extended to other areas of the body so that lengthy waiting times are reduced at busy doctors surgeries and accident departments? The rate at which technology is increasing in this sector is outstanding, and who knows what the future has in store for this developing hardware and software.
Image credit: Sam Bald