Eyephone! A simple and inexpensive technique that uses smartphone photography can help diagnose eye diseases, scientists say.
Retinal (or fundus) photography is an essential part of any ophthalmology practice.
Commercial fundus cameras can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, making the technology out of reach for smaller ophthalmic practices and to physicians in third-world countries.
In a recent study, researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary described the relatively simple technique of fundus photography in human and rabbit eyes using a smartphone, an inexpensive app for the smartphone, and instruments that are readily available.
Smartphones are now being used more routinely in ophthalmology to document patients' ocular conditions, researchers said.
"Our technique provides a simpler and higher quality method to more consistently produce excellent images of a patient's fundus," said senior author Shizuo Mukai.
"This technique has been extremely helpful for us in the emergency department setting, in-patient consultations, and during examinations under anaesthesia as it provides a cheaper and portable option for high-quality fundus-image acquisition for documentation and consultation.
"This technique is well tolerated in awake patients most likely since the light intensity used is often well below that which is used in standard indirect ophthalmoscopy," Mukai said.
Using the described technique of fundus photography with the use of smartphones, the app Filmic pro, and a 20D lens with or without a Koeppe lens, researchers were able to capture excellent, high-quality fundus images in both children under anaesthesia and in awake adults.
The best results were achieved in the operating room when a Koeppe lens was used in addition to the 20D lens; however, excellent images were acquired with the 20D lens alone in the clinic and emergency room setting as well as in the operating room.
"This technique is relatively inexpensive and simple to master, and takes advantage of the expanding mobile-telephone networks for telemedicine," Mukai said.