Turn your Smartphone into an Ophthalmoscope and Retinal Grading Tool

 In Naturopathic News

Spreading Technological Advances Far and Wide

There is so much cool technology being developed in an attempt to make diagnostic imaging and clinical tests more available to primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas. Since many Naturopaths are interested in providing care to these populations, these tools may be of particular interest. Let’s imagine capturing an image of a retina of someone in sub-Saharan Africa, and immediately sending it to an imaging center where it can be graded remotely by an ophthalmologist. Now imagine using your smartphone to do this, and it being so simple that even the patient’s 6-year-old child could probably do it.

Peering into Peek Vision’s Ophthalmoscope

This is the objective of Peek Vision, and their new smartphone based ophthalmoscope that enables retinal imaging using a phone. It is a simple piece of hardware that attaches to the camera of a smartphone and allows for high-resolution pictures of the retina to be taken. Cloud technology interfaces with the images remotely, allowing for remote grading and qualitative analysis of the images. In a field study conducted in Kenya with this hardware, published in JAMA(1) last year, conclusions were that “nonclinical photographers using the low-cost smartphone adapter were able to acquire optic nerve images at a standard that enabled independent remote grading of the images comparable to those acquired using a desktop retinal camera operated by an ophthalmic assistant.”


This is a very promising public health intervention tool, which will be available early this year. This hardware and accompanying software have been developed with fully integrative healthcare systems in mind. The intention is that this technology would be used to interface communities, schools, and healthcare centers by using cloud and personal devices in a dynamic way which allows for screening of critical eye conditions where screening has historically not been available.


1. Bastawrous A, Kuper H, Burton M, et al. Clinical Validation of a Smartphone-Based Adapter for Optic Disc Imaging in Kenya JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(2):151-158. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.4625


Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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