Smartphone eye test for the developing world

The WHO estimates that about 119
million people around the world are in need of refractive error detection or services And about ninety percent of those people are in developing countries You don’t really think a vision
impairment as one of the huge health challenges or health burdens around the world But there our studies have been published that estimate that about 42 billion US dollars are lost in a single year due to the loss of
productivity that people encounter from having
impaired vision So in your doctor’s office there are couple
different technologies that are used the most common is objective refraction
which uses an autorefractor which is simply just a machine that is
oriented into your eye and the test is performed and it
just gives out a reading There’s also subjective refraction
which is done using a phoropter which the user will say is one
better or is two better? and the user will give that feedback. Very large pieces of equipment, they’re bulky they’re expensive. The autorefractor is on the order of five to six thousand dollars The phoropter for the subjective refraction is on the
other one to two thousand dollars If you need to do eye tests in a rural
health clinic where there’s a lot of dust, or there is
limited power accessibility Or and most importantly
a lack of trained technicians which is one of the biggest
shortages in these remote settings then you simply cannot perform the test V/O Amy is part of a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is designing an alternative test for long-
and short-sightedness The technology known as NETRA requires
nothing more than a small eyepiece that can clip onto a smartphone This technology is composed of a simple
hardware add-on which is on the order about thirty
dollars in its current prototype version
that clips onto a cell phone and there’s software on the cellphone
and all it is a simple self-administered eye test So this technology employs what’s called
the Reverse Shack-Hartmann theorem and it’s a lens-less system that employs a simple mask
and the real key here is that the resolution of the screens
of cell phones in the modern market and is so high that
we can utilize that to really enable the kind of resolution
that you can get with whatever you find an optometrist
office here in Boston It’s very easy to use its can be
administered by the user with minimal assistance from a technician so the amount of training required has been reduced It’s orders of magnitude less expensive
than the technology that’s currently out there and its portable
You can just plop it on to a cell phone and use it anywhere in the world So with this we have a cellphone and
a hardware add-on that clips securely onto the phone and to perform a test you simply and hold up to your eye and an app on the phone will direct you and tell you what to do
and you perform a simple test where you’ll see two circles
you align them in a number of steps and the number steps that it takes for
you to align those 2 circles corresponds to your refractive error their and that’s how we can determine that reading V/O NETRA stands for near eye tool for refractive
assessment The concept was developed at a section of MIT known as the Media Lab
in collaboration with Brazil’s Federal University of Rio de Janeiro The device is now being used in trials around the world Amy hopes that one day the device can
become a standard part of a doctor’s toolkit
for parts of the developing world So our main entry point into this market
will be in India where we have to wide variety of contacts
already at vision institutes around the country And where there is a documented need for
this technology Now our vision for disseminating this
technology is to take it and put it in the hands every healthcare worker that’s going on every trip to every community and so in their
toolbox of like a stethoscope, a blood
pressure monitor they already have this technology with the
cellphone that that they’re already carrying with them anyway that they can simply plop on and do a
test in a matter of minutes to add this health metric to their
database [Theme music]

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