[AI] Indian professor devises method to use cellphone for eye

Renuka Warrier erenuka at gmail.com
Sat Jun 26 02:08:55 EDT 2010

The Hindu : Today's Paper / NATIONAL : Indian professor devises method to use cellphone for eye tests
BOSTON, June 26, 2010 


A team led by an Indian-origin professor has devised a method of using mobile phones for conducting eye tests, a technique it hopes will be useful in places
lacking hi-tech eye equipment. 

The device NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment), has been designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab Associate Professor
Ramesh Raskar, visiting Professor Manuel Oliveira, student Vitor Pamplona and post-doctoral research associate Ankit Mohan.

The two-minute eye test can be carried out using a small plastic device clipped in front of a cellphone's screen.

The patient looks into a small lens, presses the phone's arrow keys until sets of parallel green and red lines just overlap. The process is repeated eight
times with the lines at different angles for each eye.

The process takes less than two minutes, after which software loaded in the phone provides prescription data.

"Our device has the potential to make routine refractive eye exams simpler and cheaper, and, therefore, more accessible to millions of people in developing
countries," Professor Oliveira said in a statement.

The technology takes advantage of huge improvements in the resolution of digital displays and their widespread proliferation in cellphones.

Apart from the software to run on the phone, all that is needed is the snap-on plastic device, which, Professor Mohan says, can be produced at a cost of
about $1 to $2, but cost a few cents more in large quantities.

The team is preparing to conduct clinical trials, preliminary testing with about 20 people and objective tests using camera lenses have shown that it can
achieve results comparable to the standard aberrometer test, which shines a laser into the eye and uses an array of tiny lenses to measure its characteristics.

The group plans to launch production of the device, initially targeting parts of Africa and Asia. It also hopes to produce an advanced version that will
be able to detect other conditions, such as cataract, which could be sold in the developed world as well.

NETRA is a quicker, simpler and cheaper way to test eye sight, said the team, which has already applied for a patent.

According to the World Health Organisation, uncorrected refractive errors are the world's second-highest cause of blindness, affecting about two per cent
of the world's population.

Nearly two billion people have refractive errors and they could be potential beneficiaries of the new system. - PTI 

.  The test can be carried out using a small plastic device clipped in front of a cellphone's screen 
.  The snap-on plastic device can be produced at a cost of 
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