Portable Eye Examination Kit developed by Andrew Bastawrous has been used in Kenya, Botswana and India to help detect eye diseases. It is, and will be helpful in Sub Saharan Africa where many people now have smartphones.
There are 39 million blind people globally and in low-income countries. The two main causes of eye diseases are cataracts and refractive errors. “The majority is reversible. People who have been blind for decades, with help, can see again, says Andrew Bastawrous.
This app can replace traditional hospital equipment which is often bulky, expensive and fragile. Building up local teams, Bastawrous has also worked with village leaders to train examiners at a low cost.
How to detect Eye Diseases with Peek.
With the Peek app test the letter “E” is shown on a phone’s screen with different orientations. The patient points in the direction they see the letter facing and the examiner swipes in that direction.
The results are immediately available after the test. Patients (or their parents and school in the case of children) receive a text message recommending further treatment if necessary.
Another feature is a piece of hardware called Peek Retina. It clips on over a smartphone’s camera and can be cheaply made with a 3D printer. Used together with the Peek app, the phone is held close to the eye and focuses to show the test taker’s retina on the screen.
This device sees cataracts, detects signs of glaucoma macular degeneration diabetic retinopathy and signs of nerve disease. With a clear view of the retina, it can also detect other health problems including severe high blood pressure and diabetes.
Bastawrous was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders in 2015. He has already helped restore eyesight to thousands of those in need. While the technology behind the testing is key, Bastawrous says it’s just part of the solution:
“Smartphones and technology will not cure blindness. It’s a lot of people working on the ground” he explains. Those people include software developers teachers other doctors, local village leaders and many more who have no doubt made the work possible.