Tagged with: assistive technology disability health research
As mobile technology improves, securing our well-being doesn’t rely entirely on the hands of medical professionals, but also with the help of mobile devices and applications. Giving proof to this is the Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) Vision, which consists of a mobile app and a clip-on hardware. The tool is aimed to transform any Android smartphone into a portable diagnostic suite. As of the latest news, the project is being developed in London, under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, an ophthalmologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. How will this advancement in mobile medicine help the visually impaired?
The demand for PEEK
Of the 285 million visually impaired folks worldwide, 90% of them are living in the third world countries, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). From this figure alone, the PEEK Vision Organization has conducted a study, which concluded that the facility can be most useful in Africa and Northern India, where professionals are only working between 30%-40% capacity. In lieu of Eyecare practitioners, the main objective of the facility is to examine the retinas of patients.
What’s worth noting is that the PEEK Vision is not alone in meeting the demands. In years past, concerned citizens from mobile service providers have been doing their share to assist people with vision loss. Last year, Verizon Wireless released their own application – the Mobile Accessibility App. This tool is a suite of 10 apps, with included functions such as text-to-speech technology, large fonts, and alternate media formats like Braille. This is also in line with the company’s vision of mobile accessibility for all.
How does PEEK work?
Apart from retina scanning, PEEK Vision examines the depth of field tests, color blindness, visual acuity, and contrast sensitivity. These examinations can be administered by anyone, as long as the person is trained to use the program. The beauty about this process is that there is no need for external devices, just the smartphone’s built-in features. After launching the app, the exam administrator will place the device directly on the patient’s eye. The phone’s camera will proceed with scanning the lens, while the LED flash takes the job of illuminating the retina.
The captured images will then be projected on the screen, allowing the administrator to conduct various vision tests. For a more reliable result, the data gathered can be sent to an ophthalmologist, thanks to the Geo-tagging feature which uses the phone’s built-in GPS. This GPS feature also comes in handy for traveling Eyecare representatives, as they can follow up with patients as prescribed.
A “PEEK” at the future
Although the app isn’t available for download yet, PEEK Vision is undoubtedly one step ahead in today’s mobile health diagnosis, as noted by Mobiworld. There is an on-going research in Kenya, aimed to check the validity of the facility against conventional tools. From the 5, 000 patients examined during the test run in Kenya, 1, 000 patients showed positive results, as doctors were able to provide further treatment based on the initial findings.
Once completed, the team led by Dr. Bastawrous will publish their findings next year, as long as constraints won’t interfere with their timetable. From there, the team hopes that the system will be available to other mobile operating systems – iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows – to cater to more patients.
Breaking the barriers
To add more substantial findings, the system has been adopted by concerned professionals, and brought them to other parts of the globe. According to Curiousity Generation, the system is being tested in Antarctica, under Ranulph Fiennes’ Coldest Journey Expedition. Fiennes’ expedition is dubbed as the first attempt to brave the 2, 000-mile journey in winter. His team is equipped with the early version of the PEEK Vision, which they use to test their eyes under extreme weather conditions. The on-going study aims to determine the significant eye effects, brought by prolonged exposure to cold and darkness.
Despite being in its early stages, PEEK Vision can be considered as a breakthrough in mobile eye medicine. Surely, it can bring relief to the 285 million people with eye diseases.
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