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Diagnosing Eye Disease Through Mobile Technology

Mobile technology can be used to diagnose numerous medical concerns in remote areas of the world.

| BY Kent McDill

The advancement of mobile technology has benefits beyond being able to play games while riding the train to work.

There are endless numbers of medical innovations being studied through the use of tablets and smartphones.

At a recent meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, numerous researchers presented examples of devices that can field test eye examinations using a smartphone or tablet technology.

For example, Dr. Chris Johnson used an iPad app and the built-in camera on the iPad to screen patients in Nepal for glaucoma, and found that he could identify those who were moderately afflicted. He returned to the United States to begin work on improving the technology so that it could identify early stage glaucoma sufferers.

“It works much better than I expected, and I know I can make it better,” Johnson said in an interview with National Public Radio.

Being able to field test for glaucoma is a significant benefit because although glaucoma can be effectively treated, it often does not show symptoms until it progresses into the later stages when treatment is more difficult. Being able to test for glaucoma in remote areas through the use of mobile technology could prevent blindness from glaucoma, which afflicts more than 60 million people in the world today.

Dr. David Myung at the Stanford University Hospital worked with others to develop an attachment to an iPhone that has an ophthalmology lens (a slit lamp biomicroscope) at its end. By taking a picture with the iPhone camera, the lens can see the inside of the eye for initial diagnosis of ocular disease. This initial photographic examination would replace an eye doctor visit using a device that costs tens of thousands of dollars.

“The (attachment) is about as low-cost as it gets,’’ Myung said to NPR.

 With further development, Myung believes the attachment can be set to determine all sorts of ocular events and problems, and because of its low cost and mobility, could significantly improve treatment of people in remote areas of the world.

The use of mobile technology in medicine has created an entirely new field of medicine, with health professionals in all fields of medicine being able to diagnose early stages of disease in remote areas.The Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine, and iMedicalApps detail many of the advancements in medical diagnoses through the use of tablets and smartphones. 

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.