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iPhone eye camera tested at Stanford Hospital

Doctors at Stanford Hospital have unveiled a new tool to spot vision problems. What sets it apart is both its powerful optics and its portability.
Doctors at Stanford Hospital have unveiled a new tool to spot vision problems. What sets it apart is both its powerful optics and its portability.

In his clinic at the Stanford Eye Institute, ophthalmologist Dr. David Myung has access to some of the most powerful imaging and diagnostic equipment available. And he's found that he misses it when he's seeing patients outside the clinic.

"We'd see abnormal findings in the eye, but we'd have to jot them down and write them in a computer, and we wanted to find a way to capture those findings for instance in the emergency room," he explained.

Now, Myung and his research partners believe they've found a way to put some of that power right in their pockets. It's a portable imaging device dubbed the EyeGo.

Fashioned from a smartphone, the EyeGo employs a small snap on lighting system for images close to the eye's surface. An adaptor with a medical grade lens allows it to photograph the back of the eye.

Another member of the team, Dr. Robert Chang, recently conducted preliminary trials at a high-volume clinic in China. He says the prototype proved powerful enough to spot common abnormalities.

Once the image is captured it can be sent wirelessly to a normal data base for diagnosis. They say that portability would allow health care teams in rural areas or the developing world to quickly pre-screen patients who can't reach a clinic

"We decided to make just the simplest possible concept, and use the phone to do 90 percent of the work, and just give it some help with optics and lighting," Myung said.

He believes the design is simple enough that volunteers could use it with just minimal training. They say the cost of producing the device is currently around $90, but the price could drop with large scale production.

Written and produced by Tim Didion

Related Topics:
health technology smartphones app apps medical research Stanford University Palo Alto
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