Curing Blindness Goes Mobile With PEEK Vision App

Did you know that it's possible to test your eyesight using your smartphone? Andrew Bastawrous, a 34 year old ophthalmologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, invented the Portable Eye Examination Kit, or PEEK, a mobile app and clip-on hardware that transforms a smartphone into a pocket-size optical clinic. 

There are 285 million people suffering from blindness or poor eyesight around the world, but the majority of them can be cured by a simple cataract surgery or a pair of glasses. The problem is the lack of ophthalmologists available to those living in remote villages.

PEEK is a smartphone app that allows community healthcare workers with minimal training to conduct comprehensive eye exams at a low cost.

Peek Vision AppPeek Vision App

The app scans the eye to assess visual acuity, visual field, color vision and contrast sensitivity allowing the diagnosis of blindness, visual impairment, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or other retinal and optic nerve diseases, as well as picking up indicators of brain tumor and hemorrhage.

Once low vision is diagnosed, a 3D printed, low cost hardware adapter is clipped to the smartphone. This allows for the production of high quality images of the back of the eye, that enable the healthcare worker to assess why the patient is suffering from low vision. 

With PEEK, the cost of diagnostic equipment is brought down from $125,000, to $500, and it doesn't require a team of 15 trained personnel, regular maintenance, or a continuous power source. 

Although it's on a smartphone, PEEK needs to ensure they meet the high standards required for a clinical device, so it's currently being tested in schools, on trips across the Antarctic, and in a large cohort study of eye disease in Kenya.

It's always inspiring to see smartphone technology being used for more than just games and social networking. Have you come across other applications that are changing the world? Share them in the comments!