Could iPhones Become EyePhones?

Smartphones, both iPhones and Androids, are getting so smart that some doctors are using them for vision examination in places where traditional equipment isn't available. In one study, an iPhone ® was used to examine people with diabetes and photograph the inside of the eye.

Your eye doctor monitors the progression of diabetic eye disease through a retinal slit-lamp biomicroscope. This is a large piece of specialized equipment found only in eye doctor offices. But sometimes eye doctors need to examine patients in rural or poor areas where there isn't an office.

To address this challenge, a research group developed a small optical adapter called D-Eye that could attach magnetically to an iPhone 5. They used this device, as well as the traditional method, to perform dilated retinal digital imaging on 120 patients with diabetes.

When they compared the results of the smartphone method to the traditional one, they found the results were exactly the same in 85 percent of the eyes, and near-exact in 96.7 percent of the eyes. In cases where the results did not match, the traditional method found the disease to be more advanced.

In the smartphone results, nine eyes were not gradable due to the eye's pupil size or having a cataract. In the results from the traditional method, the number of not gradable images was four. Therefore, while the traditional method is still found to be the more accurate method for grading diabetic eye disease, researchers believe smartphone testing shows great potential for use in rural or remote communities who would normally receive little to no testing at all.