This 3D-printed camera helps diagnose eye disease in developing areas

By John Biggs, Techcrunch.com

The Peek, or Portable Eye Examination Kit app, is a smartphone based system for diagnosing eye problems. It uses a 3D-printed add-on that can allow ophthalmologists to give detailed and complete eye exams in the field using an app and a small camera overlay. Created by British ophthalmologists, the system recently hit £130,475 on Indiegogo and is now up for pre-order by doctors.

The Peek can view the retina using a smart phones high-quality camera, see cataracts, and offer visual acuity tests as well as color and contrast tests. The project is led by Dr. Andrew Bastawrous and Stewart Jordan and was designed by Kate Tarling and Dr Mario Giardini. It’s aimed at helping the 39 million people around the world who don’t have access to basic optical healthcare. In a TED Talk, Dr. Bastawrous described his research into helping developing areas receive better eye care including the restoration of sight through cataract removal and prescription lenses. Medical images taken by Peek can be sent to doctors remotely to diagnose and suggest treatments for patients.

The creators note that 80 percent of blindness worldwide is preventable but the tools necessary to address eye problems in the field are heavy, clumsy, and difficult to operate. By pairing a piece of plastic with an inexpensive smartphone, ophthalmologists are able to address eye care problems anywhere in the world. Interestingly, the system also allows you to give eye tests by showing increasingly smaller letters and figures on the screen. It also addresses color blindness through similar means.

This is obviously not for consumers, but it will enable doctors and trained personnel to give real and usable eye tests in the field. By bringing the tools of an ophthalmology office into your pocket and offering a very simple and inexpensive way to take great pictures inside the eye, doctors can visit locations in need and help people on-the-fly. The project is fully funded and should begin shipping the app and 3D-printed add-on shortly.