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Smartphone Technology Now A Tool In Ophthalmology


The iPhone and smartphones alike are increasingly becoming a vital tool in treating eye diseases. From having access to the latest medical research at the point of care, to being able to communicate at a moment's notice with physicians and colleagues around the world, medicine is being practiced in a technological age.

Numerous presentations at the RANZCO Annual Scientific Congress will present the capabilities of the smart phone as a photographic tool in ophthalmology.

The capabilities of cameras in smartphones

Cameras in smartphones have improved exponentially over the last decade. Camera phones are increasingly used for slit lamp photography (photography of the front portion of the eye) to produce high quality images and videos. Real time imaging capabilities on a phone display are invaluable in patient and student education. Cellular and Internet connection can also facilitate real time telemedicine.

Dr Weng Onn Chan's research examines the capabilities of cameras in smartphones, specifically using them for slit lamp photography in remote settings where other equipment may not be available. "In rural areas, there is sometimes only one consultant and one registrar; smart phones are a great option for taking photos when compared to having nothing else. The images are of great quality for the cost" said Dr Weng Onn Chan, Department of Ophthalmology, Alice Springs Hospital.

Dr Colin Thompson's research also looks at the iPhone as a photographic tool in an ophthalmic practice "The increasing popularity of the iPhone is making it worthwhile for further investigation of its use in ophthalmology. Whilst its function is never going to match dedicated equipment for this task, it may have some role in low cost photography to enable images to be sent over the internet."

Reliability and Accuracy of Assessing Snellen Visual Acuity using Smartphone Technology

A Snellen Visual Acuity chart; letters and numbers chart to be viewed from a set distance, used for eye exams since 1862, is now available as an application for smart phones. Now being available to be used on your own phone, Dr Chandrashan Perera evaluated the equivalence of a smartphone-based visual acuity chart with a standard 6 metre Snellen visual acuity chart.

"Using the "Snellen" application on the iPhone 4 was found to comparable to within one line accuracy to a 6 metre Snellen visual acuity chart for use at the bedside in a general hospital setting". Said Dr Chandrashan Perera. Future studies are planned to further validate this technique in patients with severe vision impairment.

View pdf. of release and images.


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