Breaking Grounds Research team discovers new phone app that can perform eye tests

The device, Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) uses the phone's camera to scan the lens of the eye for cataracts.

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A survey has shown that a  smartphone app is as effective at testing eyesight as an optician's clinic.

With the discovery, a team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, hopes it can transform eye care for millions of people in remote parts of the world.

The London team with colleagues in Scotland, modified a smartphone to develop a series of eye tests that could be used with little training and were easily portable.

The device, Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) uses the phone's camera to scan the lens of the eye for cataracts.

According to BBC, trials on 233 people in Kenya, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, showed the phone produced the same results as eye charts.

While its "Acuity App" uses a shrinking letter which appears on screen and is used as a basic vision test.

It also uses the camera's flash to illuminate the back of the eye to check for disease.

The first clinical data from tests in Kenya show the vision test gives the same results as the rows of letters found in an optician's office.

Further results on scanning the retina are about to be published and are described as 'compelling'.

According to project lead, Dr Andrew Bastawrous the main reason for most people not getting eye treatment is lack of access to treatment.

Thus, with this device, visual impairment can be detected earlier and subsequently ensure adequate treatment.

The phone reportedly costs £300 (about N91,000) while bulky eye examination equipment costs in excess of £100,000(about N30 million).

In the meantime, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness believes the app could be a "game changer".

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