iPhone turns into a medical device
Sunday, October 6 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
A team of Boston researchers has devised a system for capturing photos of the retina using an iPhone.
Until now, attempts to use the iPhone to examine the retina had failed. Its video system lacked the flexibility required to produce good results; it could not independently control focus and exposure, which produced poor-quality images.
The researchers, from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, overcame this obstacle by using an app for iPhone 4 and 5, called Filmic Pro, which allows for independent control of focus, exposure and light intensity during filming. They tested the system on children under anesthesia, adults that are awake and even rabbits. In all three cases, the system produced good-quality images.
The system has already proved useful in the emergency department, in consultations with in-patients, and during exams under anesthesia.
Taking photos of the retina is an essential part of an ophthalmology practice. But current methods rely on fundus cameras that cost tens of thousands of dollars. This is much too expensive for smaller practices, particularly in poor countries.
The new system provides “a cheaper and portable option for high-quality fundus-image acquisition,” said Dr. Shizuo Mukai, a retina specialist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.