Scientists trial using smartphones for fundus imaging in India

Researchers took smartphone retinal images of 193 diabetes patients to investigate the potential of the technology for screening

woman looking at phone
New research published in Ophthalmology has explored the potential of smartphone technology for diabetic eye disease screening in India.

Ophthalmic assistants at Sankara Eye Hospital in Bangalore took retinal images of 381 eyes in 193 patients.

Four different approaches to smartphone-based fundus imaging were used, with three approaches based on direct ophthalmoscopy and one approach using indirect ophthalmoscopy.

The image quality, field of view, examination time and diagnostic accuracy for diabetic retinopathy screening were compared to traditional fundus photography and clinical examination by researchers from University of Bonn and Sankara Eye Hospital.

Researchers found that smartphone-based fundus imaging using indirect ophthalmoscopy produced the best image quality and field of view.

Indirect ophthalmoscopy using smartphone technology also performed best when compared to the reference standard for diabetic retinopathy screening.

The authors concluded that smartphone-based fundus imaging can meet diabetic retinopathy screening requirements in an outreach setting, but not all devices are suitable in terms of image quality and diagnostic accuracy.

The best results were achieved by using an adapter with an additional lens attached to a mid-range smartphone.

Dr. Maximilian Wintergerst, from the University Hospital Bonn, highlighted: "It allowed almost 80 percent of eyes with any retinal changes to be detected, even in the early stages. Advanced damage could even be diagnosed 100 percent of the time."