Vision Assessment Mobile App Catches Patients' Eyes

NOVEMBER 13, 2017
Kevin Kunzmann
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) may become as easily assessed at home as it is in a doctor’s office.

Checkup, a free mobile application that allows AMD and DR patients to assess their vision, has reported comparable results to vision testing in a professional health care center.

Research on the mobile app — presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO 2017) in New Orleans, LA — indicates that patients may have better care for their vision due to the telemedicine option.

Researchers from the Northern California Retina Vitreous Associates in Mountain View, CA, analyzed the smartphone app’s ability to monitor vision in 27 patients with either AMD or DR over a period of 2 months.

The patients would first test their vision at home with Checkup, before being tested again in a health care setting. The smartphone app’s reports were consistent with in-office test results for both visual acuity and on the Amsler grid testing, and patients reported ease in using the app.

The Amsler grid, depicted as a square on a gridded sheet of paper with a dot in the middle, is commonly recommended by ophthalmologists for patients to check their own visual acuity. But it is frequently disregarded by patients between doctor visits, according to the study, and patients have difficultly in properly taking the test.

Adversely, Checkup functions as a voice-activated app that sends the user reminders through their mobile device if a scheduled test is forgotten. Real-time results are sent to a secure database, where ophthalmologists can view results, and then consult with patients if necessary.

Linda Redington, a 57-year-old AMD patient to have participated in the Checkup study, said visual acuity test proved simpler to manage than Amsler grid tests. The mobile app sends the user a red, flashing light they must tap with a finger in order to complete.

“I never missed a day,” Redington said. “It was easy and it didn’t take a big chunk out of the day. It took just 5 minutes.”

Rahul N. Khurana, MD, lead researcher, expressed excitement for the technology’s potential to improve patient care.

“More and larger studies are required to make sure it works as well as our small study showed,” Khurana said. “But we found that it encouraged patients to take a more active role in their care, and they found it easy to use.”

DR-based telemedicine methods mostly pertain to visioning, and are burdened by regulatory and financial constraints. The progression of Checkup in clinical settings may lay groundwork for more ophthalmic telemedicine options.

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