New Smartphone App Can Test for Glaucoma at Home and at One-Fourth the Cost
Science & Tech| | By Robin Milling
No more stinging eye drops to dilate the pupils and embarrassing plastic sunglasses to block the sun after a visit to the optometrist. Heading to an actual doctor’s office for glaucoma testing may have just become a thing of the past. On Sept. 8, Cambridge Consultants unveiled the ‘Viewi’ optical concept, an innovative gadget not unlike a gigantic View-Master that may help combat glaucoma – a major cause of blindness – right in the privacy of your own home. And it’s about a quarter of the cost – retailing at around $25 per headset.
Simon Karger, head of surgical and interventional products at Cambridge Consultants explained, “Although the current clinical tests work exceptionally well, the system for glaucoma management is overloaded. We’ve used our optical expertise – coupled with our algorithm skills – to show how a simple, affordable, fast glaucoma screening test that patients can do at home is entirely feasible. The Viewi system doesn’t aim to replace the current screening and management system – it’s been designed to augment the clinical tests.” Glaucoma affects more than 60 million people worldwide and leads to optic nerve damage as a result of abnormally high fluid pressure inside the eye. A tonometer which measures pressure inside the eye to detect glaucoma may soon become a paperweight if Viewi takes off. Currently in the doctor’s office you play a video game gadget where your eyes have to follow a bouncing light – a “static perimetry” test – pressing a button each time you see it. With the Viewi, the test is simulated via a smartphone which slots into the portable headset, wirelessly connected via Bluetooth Smart. The patient simply presses a button each time they see one of the flashing dots, in less than five minutes per eye. The folks at Cambridge Consultants have taken human factors into consideration making it user-friendly for patients with sight problems and the elderly who may not even know what a smartphone is. The results of the test are displayed in a non-technical format on the smartphone, tracking the progression of the disease and can be shared instantly with your optician from anywhere in the world. Take the test at home, but leave the diagnosis up to your doctor. Being able to see has just gotten smarter.
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