"Everyone has a smart phone." The aforementioned is a phrase that we hear over and over again. But sadly, it's also true that many people do not have access to reliable medical treatment. According to Andrew Bastawrous, an ophthalmologist, globally, four out of five people who are blind don’t need to be, as they’re suffering from a preventable or curable condition (around 39 million people are blind, and some 80% of this blindness is avoidable). Now he and his team and working to try and change the numbers.

The device that they developed is called Peek Retina, and it works from your phone. With this tool, your phone can be transformed from a communication device into a medical device. In order for it to work, you clip it onto the front of a phone and it works along with an app to capture photos of the back of the retina, which happens to be one of the areas most often associated with eyesight problems.

The idea behind this tool is that it will allow patients to take photos of their eyes and send them to experts around the world. Thus, they can be diagnosed and even treated remotely. The team has been testing the system for the past two years in the UK and African countries such as Botswana, Mali and Kenya. They are also in the process of getting approval for use in the UK, and they are also working to get approval from the FDA in the United States. In order to have everything all set to go post-approval, they are crowd-funding the project on Indiegogo, with the aim of getting the device out to people who need it by October 2015.

Their studies show that a healthcare worker using Peek Retina can accurately assess more than 1,000 people per week, and the device could also be used by non-experts in their own homes. Learn more in the video below:

Learn more in this TED talk


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