“Instagram for the eye”- this is how assistant professor of Ophthalmology Robert Chang, MD described the latest development in health informatics technology.
About two years ago, Dr. Chang and Ophthalmology resident David Myung, MD, PhD started a project which involves the integration of two inexpensive adapters into smartphones, enabling the latter to capture high definition images of the front and the back of the eye. This innovation makes it available and ready for everyone’s use, even by persons who have minimal training in the field. It also allows secure sharing of the images to other health practitioners. Through this innovation in health informatics, the image of the eye can be uploaded and stored in the electronic health records of the patient.
A camera specialized for taking photographs of the eye is rather expensive. Aside from the fact that primary care physicians do not have access to this equipment, one must have extensive training for using the technology. With this latest development in ophthalmology, the researchers believe that this opens the door to improved access to eye-care services and better provision of medical care to patients.
The device, currently dubbed as EyeGo, was first constructed using inexpensive materials purchased online. This includes plastic caps and spacers, LEDs, universal mounts, switches, and even Legos. After mastering the photography of the front of the eye, Myung said it was a challenge to take an image of the back of the eye. For this, he used optics theory to successfully establish the perfect working conditions, such as the proper lighting and appropriate distance for the adapter.
Dr. Myung, together with chief ophthalmology resident Lisa He, MD, shot hundreds of pictures and consulted with Drs. Chang and Mark Blumenkranz, retina specialist and chair of the ophthalmology department until they are all satisfied with the results.
In places where eye-care is less accessible, or where an ophthalmologist is far from the point of care, smartphones adapted with this technology has the potential to significantly improve and “revolutionize eye care”, Miyung pointed out. Furthermore, he points out that the capabilities of today’s smartphones to capture high resolution images can supplement descriptions of eye conditions which ordinarily are just written on the patient’s chart.
Ophthalmology, according to Chang is an image oriented medical field. This breakthrough in the field, he adds, will enable ancillary healthcare staff to take a photo of the eye for a biomedical consultation. Drs. Myung and Chang have recently been granted the funding by the School of Medicine and the Stanford Biodesign Program for the production of the first batch of the EyeGo.