60-Second Tech

Eye-Catching Adapter Makes Smartphone Ophthalmic Screener

Researchers are developing adapters that let smartphones take high-quality images of the eye that could be used to remotely screen patients for eye conditions or disease. Larry Greenemeier reports


Smartphone cameras have turned the selfie into an art form. And soon your selfie may be able to warn your doctor about a serious problem with your eyes, without a trip to the ophthalmologist.
Stanford University School of Medicine researchers are developing inexpensive adapters that let smartphones take high-quality images of the eye. Not just the lens in front but the retina in back too. With no need for eye drops that dilate your pupils for hours.

The research team is studying the quality of images taken using the adapters and their ability to track eye disease in patients with diabetes. This work was published online in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine. [David Myung et al, Simple, Low-Cost Smartphone Adapter for Rapid, High Quality Ocular Anterior Segment Imaging: A Photo Diary]

Right now, prototype adapters cost about $90 to make and are available only to other researchers. But if the adapters work as promised, patients could snap digital pictures of their eyes and e-mail them to a doctor. That’s a convenience for most of us, but a necessity for people living in remote areas with poor access to any local ophthalmic care.
And it could turn your iPhone into an “eye” phone.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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