Imaging the back of an eye using a smartphone

Fundus photography is an essential diagnostic tool for any ophthalmologist. 

However, commercial fundus cameras can cost tens of thousands of pounds. This can mean that the technology is out of reach for many smaller practices, or those who practise in the developing world. 
Digital Retina
In a paper published in the Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Harvard, describe a simple new technique for performing fundus photography using a smartphone.
 
The study used an iPhone, an app called Filmic Pro and instruments readily available in any ophthalmic practice, to capture high-quality images of patients’ eyes.
 
Researchers reported that they were able to acquire excellent images in both clinical and emergency room settings, with even first year residents able to master the technique in a relatively short period. 
 
Smartphones are beginning to be used more regularly in ophthalmological settings. However, previous fundus imaging techniques proved to be unreliable, partly because the iPhone’s camera app cannot independently control focus and exposure during filming, resulting in poor image quality.
 
By using a technique whereby the ophthalmologist holds their iPhone in one hand and a 20D lens in the other to focus on the retina, researchers were able to overcome this problem. Senior author Shizuo Mukai, associate Professor of Ophthalmology, commented: "Our technique provides a simple method to consistently produce excellent images of a patient’s fundus.” 3D-glaucoma-disc
 
Practitioners were able to obtain high-quality fundus images in adults and children, both when asleep and when under anesthesia. Researchers predict that, over time, image quality will continue to improve as higher-resolution cameras make it onto the market.
 
“Capturing images with an iPhone using our technique provides a cheap, portable option for acquiring high-quality fundus images for documentation and consultation,” Professor Mukai added.
 

 

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