Peek Retina: Technology that could change optometry

Photo courtesy of wired.co.uk/health

Photo courtesy of wired.co.uk/health

Peek stands for Portable Eye Examination Kit. It is comprised of a smartphone app and low-cost adaptor that enables eye examinations anywhere in the world, such as remotely located medical clinics. The adapter that is attached to the smartphone is portable – small enough to fit in a pocket. Peek retina includes both a retina camera function and an ophthalmoscope using the smartphone’s camera. The importance of this technology is to diagnose ocular conditions in the back of the eye such as glaucoma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Since the adapter works with a smartphone, the images can be saved and shared with specialists located in other regions. The device was created by Dr. Andrew Bastawrous and is funded through Indiegogo. Per Dr. Bastawrous, “Around 39 million people are blind — 80% of this blindness is avoidable, but in many regions people don’t have access to eye care.”

At this time, a pledge of £60 ($95) can be used to purchase the kit or to donate an adapter to a medical worker. Shipping is estimated for October 2015. The kit currently is compatible on a Samsung S3. Also, it does not have FDA approval and cannot be shipped to the U.S.

If Peek retina actually works, this would be incredibly useful technology to provide eye examinations around the world. Of course, the resolution of the retina image must be in focus to provide the most reliable information.

There are a few disappointments, which could change in the future. First, Peek retina is only compatible with Samsung S3. There are many other smartphones out there that will not have the opportunity to use Peek retina. Second, since it does not have FDA approval, those of us in the U.S. are unable to obtain this technology to help people worldwide.

However, this technology is promising and does have the potential to prevent blindness worldwide.

~ Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association
http://www.coavision.org
http://www.eyehelp.org

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