PEEK, a new smartphone app developed by a team of eye health experts, is set to dramatically improve the way people who suffer from cataracts and other eye-related problems in the emerging world are treated.
PEEK (short for “Portable Eye Examination Kit”), pairs an app-based visual diagnosis tool with the portable functionality of smartphone based mapping and location software to put what almost amounts to a full ophthalmology department in a user’s pocket.
Using the smartphone’s camera in tandem with its flashlight, a travelling doctor can assess whether or not a patient is suffering from a cataract or other eye problems. An image is captured with the camera, alongside the patient’s location, and sent back to the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, where it’s given a thorough examination. Once a number of test have been carried out locally, the team on the ground can then set up an accessible treatment centre locally, using Google Maps to assess the most convenient location.
With the means to carry out a range of eye tests, including simple distance visual accuracy examinations, a £300 smartphone is capable of carrying out examinations that would usually require static equipment that costs in excess of £10,000.
Though still in a testing phase in Nakuru, Kenya, a trial of 5,000 people has already seen 1,000 people get sight-saving treatment that they would have otherwise missed. If rolled out on a wider scale, there’s the potential for many, many more people to get access to the medical attention they require. The World Health Organization estimates some 285 million people have eye problems, four out of five of which are curable. PEEK could lead the charge in dropping those numbers considerably.