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Kenya: Doctors develop smartphone app to detect blindness

March 3, 2016 • East Africa, Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

Peek Smartphone Application

PEEK utilises smartphone technology in order to allow doctors to PEEK inside the eye and carry out various tests. (Image Source: wired.co.uk).

A new smartphone application, which has been dubbed PEEK (Portable Eye Examination Kit), has been developed in order to help address cases of visual impairment among schoolchildren.

Developed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with Kenyan doctors, PEEK utilises smartphone technology in order to allow doctors to PEEK inside the eye and carry out various tests. These tests according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, include visual acuity, colour and lens vision as well as retinal imaging.

When utilising the application, in conjunction with a smartphone, a child’s detected impaired vision is showcased on the smartphone’s screen. Once diagnosed a parent, or head teacher, will be notified – via SMS – asking them to present the child for treatment.

According to a report via Business Daily Africa, Hillary Rono, the hospital’s ophthalmologist and PEEK co-founder stated that: “21,000 school-going children in Trans Nzoia had been screened using PEEK… out of which 900 were found visually impaired and were referred for treatment at the Kitale County Hospital Eye Unit.”

In the report, Rono added that: “Out of the 2.5 million people in Trans Nzoia, 80 per cent have eye problems that if not checked would lead to avoidable blindness.” He went on to say that five in every 1,000 people in the region are blind. Rono further stated that the disparity between demand for childhood eye services and health personnel was what informed the innovation, which can be used by teachers with minimal training.

The initiative, which has been sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, is part of its ‘Seeing is Believing’ initiative. Standard Chartered Bank has since invested $350,000 in a three-year programme to screen pupils in 350 schools in Trans-Nzoia. This is according to Ventures Africa.

Darryl Linington
Follow @DarrylLinington on Twitter



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