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Andrew Bastawrous: Your next 1 eye exam on a smartphone

eye exam, examen ocular. human eye close-up photography

Ted’s video transcript: Andrew Bastawrous: Get your next eye exam on a smartphone

There are 39 million blindpeople in the world. Eighty percent of them live in low-income countries like Kenya, and the vast majority of them would have no reason to be blind. There is blindness due to diseases that can becompletely cured or prevented.


Your next eye exam on a smartphone

Knowing this, I moved to Kenya with my young family. We got medical equipment, funds, vehicles, set up a task force, set up hundreds of clinics across the Great Rift Valley to address and understand one simple question: Why do people suffer from blindness and what can we do?

The challenges were great. Everywhere we went , we set up our high-tech equipment, andelectrical power was rarely available. We had to use gasoline generators to run our equipment. And then something occurred to me: there had to be an easier way, because the patients who need access to eye care the most are the ones who have the least.

In Kenya and black Africa, more people have access to a cell phone than to clean running water,so we thought, could we harness the power of mobile technology to deliver eye care in a new way? So we developed Peek, a smartphone system that enables communication between healthcare workers and empowers them to deliver care anywhere.

We are replacing traditional hospital equipment that is expensive, bulky and fragile withapps and hardware that make it possible to examine anyone in any language and of any age. Here I have a demonstration of a three-month-old baby whose vision was accurately tested using an app and an eye movement tracker

We have done a lot of testing in communities and in schools and from the lessons we learned in the field we have realized that it is extremely important to share data in a colloquial language that people can understand what we are testing and what it means to them.

So for example, we use our app, once we’ve measured vision, we show caregivers and teachers how these people see the world, so they can empathize with them and help them

Oncewe diagnose that someone has poor vision, the next big challenge is to find out why , and to do that we have to get inside the eye. Traditionally, expensive equipment is required to examine the area called the retina. The retina is the part of our eyes that holds tons of information about the body and its health.

We developed low-cost3D-printed hardware that costs less than USD 5 to produce that can be attached to a smartphone and manages to get very high-quality views of the back of the eye. And the beauty of it is that anyone can do it

In our tests on over 2500 people the phone with this add-on is similar to a camera which is much more expensive and much more difficult to carry

The first time we went to Kenya we took USD 150,000 worth of equipment, a team of 15 people,that’s what was required to provide the medical care. Today, all it takes is one person on a bicycle with a smartphone.

And at a cost of USD 500. The electricity problem is solved with solar panels. Our healthcare workers travel with backpacks that have solar panels, which keep the phone charged and backed up. Now we go to the patient instead of waiting for them to never come

We go to their homes and give them the most comprehensive, high-tech care that anyone with little training can give. We can bring global experts to people in the most rural and hard-to-reach areas that are beyond the end of the road; putting those experts in their homes, allowing us to make diagnoses and treatment plans

Hospital managers and directors can search our interface for any parameter they are interested in. Here in Nakuru, where I have been living, we can search for people with any condition. Here we have people who are blind from a curable cataract condition.

Each red dot represents someone who is blind from a condition that is curable and treatable and they are findable. We can use great messaging services to explain that we will be coming soon to provide treatment

In addition, we have learned that this is something we not only build for the community but with the community. The blue dots represent elders or local leaders who are connected to those people and who can ensure we find them and get them treatment.

So for patients like Mama Wangari, who has been blind for more than 10 years and has never seen her grandson, for less than $40 we can give her back her sight. That’s something that has to happen...In statistics alone there are millions of people who go blind. The reality is that everyone goes blind alone. But now, they are just a text message away from finding help.


Since live demonstrations are a bad idea, we’ll do a live demonstration.


Here we have the Peek Vision application. Okay, what we see here is Sam’s optic nerve which is in direct connection with his brain. So we’re actually seeing his brain as we look here.wecan see all the parts of the retina.

This makes it possible for us to detect diseases in the eye and the body that otherwise would not be possible without seeing in the eye and the attachment can be made for a few dollars and you can cure people’s blindness and I think it says a lot about the human race if we develop cures but we don’t provide them. But now we can

Thank you


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