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Your Doctor May Use an iPhone For Your Next Eye Exam

January 23, 2013

By Cynthia Herbert :: 12:14 PM

iPhone eye examinationDon’t be surprised if, at your next eye exam, your doctor whips out his or her iPhone instead of the usual instruments they use to measure and examine your eyes.

Medical-device manufacturer Welch Allyn is about ready to market iPhones as eye scanners after approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Skaneateles Falls NY-based company was granted clearance from the FDA for its iPhone hardware adapter dubbed the iExaminer. The device, along with software provided by Welch Allyn, allows the iPhone to capture high-resolution images of the retinal nerve of the eye. The adapter and software were designed to allow health-care providers to take digital images of eyes across clinical settings, and share those images with patients. The device, the company hopes, will also increase efficiency in optical offices.

iExaminer is a snap-on adapter that connects the company’s PanOptic ophthalmoscope to the iPhone (4 and 4S models only).

“I was able to take this very lightweight, portable, inexpensive iExaminer to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in sub-Saharan Africa and take a picture of a patient’s fundus,” said the inventor Dr. Wyche Coleman. “From the top of the mountain, I then transmitted it to a doctor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States where he was able to analyze the image.”

The mobility of this device greatly expands the possibilities for health care in poor and rural areas where access to expensive and hard-to-move equipment is scarce.

The free version of the Welch Allyn iPhone app allows doctors to capture and store up to 10 patient files, and a paid upgrade is available for retaining more records.

Welch Allyn hopes to begin shipping the device on February 11th.