Posted on Collectively.
A tech-focused eye-health company, Peek, has had the foresight to design affordable smartphone apps that test for diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma
Testing your eyes is now as simple as taking a photo. With a smartphone, an inexpensive 3D-printed adapter and free software, eye care that typically requires expensive, bulky, fragile equipment can fit in your pocket and go anywhere in the world – even to the middle of the Antarctic. Designed with non-specialists in mind, Peek has developed a Portable Eye Examination Kit that can be operated with minimal training, while still providing accurate, high quality results.
Their greatest development is Peek Retina, an adapter that turns your smartphone into a retinal camera, using the flash to scan the retina for visual impairments and disease – such as cataracts and glaucoma, as well as diabetes and high blood pressure – with the accuracy of a $25,000 camera, for only $100.
The Peek Acuity app replaces the standard eye chart, and works even for those not familiar with English, while SightSim presents a live smartphone simulation of how someone with a visual impairment sees the world.
All the information from these tests can be stored and texted to remote clinicians for diagnosis. In developing countries, where there simply aren’t enough trained eye health staff to go out to every location, this helps more people to be diagnosed and connected with appropriate services.
“Our prime ambition is not to develop a company that’s hugely profitable. Our ambition is to eradicate blindness”
A few weeks ago, Peek formed the Peek Vision Foundation, a registered non-profit. From the start, Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, an ophthalmologist and the Peek research lead, said, “Our prime ambition is not to develop a company that’s hugely profitable. Our ambition is to eradicate blindness.” The technology has been designed, trialled and tested on the ground with healthcare workers, so it can complement – not replace – the hard work they’re already doing.
On top of a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, Peek continues to receive incredible backing and support from charities. MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness are partnered with Peek to distribute the retinal camera adapter to clinics in Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, Mali and beyond.
A school screening program, funded by Seeing is Believing, facilitated the vision tests of 20,0000 Kenyan children by their teachers in less than two weeks, and the program will be scaled-up and implemented in India. Support also comes from the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, a major sponsor of Peek’s work, as well as Combat Blindness International, Vision for a Nation Foundation and many more.
Initial public release of the adapter is set for April 2016. As the team continues to develop apps – tests for detecting cerebral malaria and colour blindness, and a pediatric vision test, ‘Peekaboo’, are in the works – it becomes more conceivable that the average person will be able to monitor and manage their ocular health far better in the near future.