When you think of medical care in a village deep in the mountains of Nepal, the use of high-tech instruments might not immediately spring to mind. But one group of researchers led by Dr. Chris Johnson has taken their iPads to the region in order to perform eye exams. “How?” you might ask? The answer of course is—there’s an app for that!
In this case the app was developed specifically to screen for glaucoma, a symptomless disease that can lead to sudden blindness.Traditional glaucoma screening involves the patient sitting in front of a large expensive machine. In contrast the, Visual Fields Easy app is free and portable, making it an important medical tool, especially in third world countries.
According to a recent NPR article, the app, while not perfect, did a decent job of identifying those with the disease.(Dr. Johnson and his colleagues admit that there are still issues with the app and others like it that need to be worked out.) NPR explains that the team is “…now expanding the tests to India, with the aim of refining it.”
With more medical apps in the works, it seems like a step in the right direction for bringing affordable low-tech healthcare to those in need. Whether abroad or at home, these tools may be the future of more affordable healthcare for all.
Dr. Chris Johnson via University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
VisualFields easy via iTunes
Read all articles by Juniper Briggs