A smartphone app developed by Peek Vision (Portable Eye Examination Kit) has been used in Kenya, Botswana and India to test patients who would otherwise find getting proper eye care difficult.
There are 39 million blind people in the world, and in low-income countries, 80% of blindness is curable, notes Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, an eye surgeon that helped develop the app.
Cataracts and refractive errors are the two most common problems in poorer countries notes Bastawrous, who has trained local examiners in remote areas of Kenya on the new technology.
21,000 school children were screened in Kenya, with successful results. Another round of screening has just started for another 300,000 students to be tested in Kenya.
Examiners show an "E" to those being tested, and the patient points the way the letter is facing. It's simple, but has had very accurate results, according to a JAMA Opthamology report.
For tests done in schools, parents are sent text messages with their child's results and then told if follow-up is needed.
"We find a local champion," says Dr. Bastawrous, who stresses how important the people on the ground are to his team's mission. Often a village leader is trained in order to reach those in need.
Peek's technology helps to detect cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and signs of nerve disease. It can also pick up other health problems including severe high blood pressure and diabetes.