How doctors are making house calls in remote African villages–using a smart phone
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Photo Credit: PR, YouTube Screenshot - Peek

Peek Retina crowdfunds a hack for better eye care in the Third World

Eighty percent of blind people lose their sight through preventable conditions.

But in the Third World, health care from an eye specialist is inaccessible to rural populations. Many eye diseases as well as diabetes and high blood pressure can be detected by a retinal examination.

Peek Retina is a camera adapter that clicks onto a smart phone and allows health care workers to examine a patient, then send the photos to an expert for diagnosis. The quality of the images is comparable with an ophthalmoscopes.

Many eye diseases and other health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can be detected with a good view of the retina. If a cataract is discovered, it can be treated without traveling to a clinic.

From the comfort of your own phone

“There are so many hard-working and excellent eye care workers in hospitals and charities worldwide,” Dr Andrew Bastawrous told the BBC.

“One of the greatest challenges they face is getting expertise and diagnostic tools to remote locations- we hope Peek will support their efforts to alleviate unnecessary sight loss.”

Peek’s co-founder, Dr. Andrew Bastawrous a clinical lecturer and ophthalmologist within the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He founded the app after having trouble transporting eye equipment to remote areas of Kenya.

Peek received initial funding in 2013 from The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust for research and development. The app is currently being tested in Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi and India.

According to Ola Ola Orekunrin, a trauma doctor who runs Flying Doctors Nigeria, smart phones have become widespread in Africa, which has enabled the “telemedicine” trend.

“Africa never managed to build a comprehensive telephone cable network,” she writes. “And, as mobile and smart phones proliferate, it will never need one…healthcare workers can be trained to deliver services without leaving their communities, in collaboration with doctors in urban centers many miles away using telemedicine. This is a model that is already gaining widespread traction.”

Peek Retina is part of this trend. So far, the app’s Indiegogo campaign has raised 74% of its GBP 70,000 goal. The money will be used to set up the industrial design and manufacturing process so that we can produce Peek Retina at scale.

Watch Andrew Bastawrous’ TED talk here:

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Simona Weinglass

About Simona Weinglass

I'm an old-school journalist who recently decided to pivot into high-tech. I work in high-tech marketing as well as print and broadcast media covering politics, business culture and everything in between.

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