Get your eyes examined

Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear are using an iPhone, accompanying app, and 20D lens for retinal photography, highlighting the fact that uses for imaging options like the iPhone are expanding, and will likely continue to do so.

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Last month I had to visit my optometrist to have my eyes examined. I was very impressed when they revealed they had purchased a system from Optomap (www.optos.com) to capture retinal images. Using a combination of multiple lighting techniques the system revealed all the defects of my old, poor tired eyes. So when I first read about researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear using an iPhone and accompanying app for retinal photography I was, as you can imagine, rather cynical.

Their technique involves a smartphone, an app, and a 20D lens. By using the coaxial light source of the phone, the system works as an indirect ophthalmoscope that captures a digital image of the fundus in the iPhone camera. Their Filmic Pro app allows for independent control of the focus, exposure, and light intensity during video filming. Videos of the fundus are recorded and used to create a still-image.

According to Shizuo Mukai, M.D., Mass. Eye and Ear retina specialist and Harvard Medical School associate professor of Ophthalmology, "This technique has been extremely helpful in the emergency department, in-patient consultations, and during examinations under anesthesia as it provides a cheaper and portable option for high-quality fundus-image acquisition systems."

Of course, this system is cheaper, portable, effective, and patient friendly. To me, it highlights the fact that uses for imaging options like the iPhone are expanding, and will likely continue to do so. For example:

While more advanced imaging options will, at present, need to be performed with far more advanced equipment, options like this can at least provide a gateway to that next step. However, if my ophthalmologist charges me $300 next time he takes out his iPhone I will not be happy!

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