“It has been a long and very challenging road to get to this point. Although there is much to celebrate, this is only the beginning of the journey.” So explained Dr Andrew Bastawrous, co-founder and CEO of Peek, at the launch of Peek Retina at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (20 April).
The device is the latest solution created by Peek, a social impact enterprise that works to give healthcare providers the tools and knowledge needed to deliver high quality, sustainable care.
The smartphone camera adapter is used for retinal imaging, which has been designed to help increase access to care by enabling more eye examinations to be carried out.
Described by the company as “intuitive and easy to use,” the tool enables the examination of the optic nerve and macula.
In a statement, Peek said: “In a perfect world, retinal imaging would be standard practice at the point of initial examination, but it is not normal practice because retinal images are hard to capture using traditional equipment. We believe Peek Retina can make a significant impact on avoidable blindness by removing barriers to access and enabling new examinations to be performed, but we are calling on users and supporters to give as much feedback as possible so it can be made even better.”
Peek Retina clips over the camera on any smartphone, enabling users to capture an image of the back of the retina and share it easily without the need for a desktop retinal camera.
The eye needs to be dilated to enable examination, with Peek highlighting that “different countries have different rules governing the use of dilation drops.” Once the eye is dilated, images of the retina can be captured without requiring a high skill level, although specialist skills and knowledge are needed to interpret the images, the company notes.
Other projects from Peek include Peek Acuity, an app that test vision, which has been used in over 100 countries since it was released last year. Non-health experts can use the app, and it can also be used in smaller spaces than traditional ‘alphabet-based’ eye chart testing, which, Peek explains, means that more people can be “reached and tested.”
An element within Peek Acuity, PeekSim, has been created to show what a person with a vision problem really sees compared with normal vision just after they have had their vision tested.
By teaming-up with schools and communities in Kenya, Botswana and India, more than 100,000 children have had their eyes tested with Peek using the Peek School Screening programme and followed up for treatment or glasses where needed, and Peek is carrying out research to improve and expand these programmes.
More work to do
Peek began as a result of Dr Bastawrous’s experiences of transporting eye equipment to rural communities in Kenya to gather eye health data for his PhD at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
At the launch event the ophthalmologist and assistant professor in International Eye Health at the London school, Dr Bastawrous, said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported us and helped us take ideas from research to reality and we will continue to learn and develop the tools and knowledge which healthcare providers and systems need to help those with avoidable sight loss.”
“While large numbers of people remain unable to see or access eye care, our job remains unfinished.”