Andrew Bastawrous of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is currently testing a smartphone app that could help bring much-needed treatment to people in areas of the world with little to no access to eye clinics. As its name indicates, the Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) turns the phone into a diagnostic device capable of scanning lenses for cataracts, taking images of the retina and optic nerve, and even delivering a simple vision test. The collected data can then be e-mailed to doctors’ offices. Five thousand Kenyans are participating in the trial, and so far 1,000 of them have received treatment.
What’s the Big Idea?
According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are blind or visually impaired, and the vast majority of those live in poorer countries. Peter Ackland of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness says, “If you’re a breadwinner and you can’t see and you can’t work then the whole family is in crisis…[Peek] will enable us to [bring eye care services using] relatively untrained people.”
Thanks in part to a successful crowdfunding campaign, backers of the DrinkSavvy line — glasses, cups, straws and stirrers that react to the presence of common “date-rape” drugs — will start receiving the product next month.