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Medicine Biotech Cellphones Software

Poor Vision? There's an App For That 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-can-see-clearly-now dept.
necro81 writes "Researchers at MIT's Media Lab have developed a smartphone app that allows users to measure how poor their vision is (myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism) and receive a corrective prescription. The user peers through a $2 optical adapter at the screen of a smartphone. The app displays lighted bars, and prompts the user to adjust the display until the bars line up. Repeating this with bars in different locations and orientations allows the vision distortion to be determined to within about 0.4 diopters using a Nexus One. The iPhone 4, with its higher-resolution display, should be able to improve that to 0.28 diopters. This could have broad application in the developing world, where experienced opticians and diagnostic equipment are hard to come by."
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Poor Vision? There's an App For That

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  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @11:38AM (#32786474)

    Is there an app to bite my shiny metal ass?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by GraZZ (9716)

      Oh my yes.

      (Hey mods, go watch the newest Futurama episode. Highly relevant.)

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Hey mods, go watch the newest Futurama episode. Highly relevant.

        And why I went "lol" instead of "huh?" to the GP is why I torrent shows...

        • by TheKidWho (705796)

          That's a great way to support Futurama!

          FYI You can get the episodes right away on iTunes via the Season Pass.

    • Something along the lines of phones, eyes and Apple's tendency to name their products by sticking a vowel in front of another word.
      Can't quite put my finger on it though.

      o-Phone? i-Ris-Phone? pho-O-pil?

    • by antdude (79039)

      How come Bender didn't even say that in the last Futurama (S6E3) episode? That was an awesome episode that made fun of Apple.

  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @11:44AM (#32786508)
    This is great for countries that lack opticians with basic equiptment yet somehow have lots of people with large screened smartphones?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Think Doctors Without Borders able to travel to more remote villages without carting along huge pieces of equipment.

      This could allow even a doctor in a poor country to provide prescription glasses (through mail order) with a much smaller investment (one smartphone, even without service, and the $2 attachment.)

      • by hazem (472289)

        Wouldn't it be better to actually _correct_ the problem, rather than just diagnose it with an app?

        http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99838367 [npr.org]

    • by ntdesign (1229504)
      The test would be administered by an optician or someone else qualified, with a smartphone. It wouldn't be meant for consumers to test their own vision.
    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      This is great for countries that lack opticians with basic equiptment yet somehow have lots of people with large screened smartphones?

      Exactly. I suspect there are far more phones in those areas than expensive optician sets. Despite the lack of cell coverage. Besides, it doesn't have to be a smartphone. This idea and application can be integrated into a lot of other equipment, such as the inexpensive laptops being deployed to the local schools or local clinics.

      I also see a marketing opportunity here. Sell the viewfinder for $10 online and then have a website with the application (possible with a subscription fee).

    • by skids (119237)

      It's great in general, not just for developing countries. Eyeglass centers could reduce the number of full tests, only doing a high precision test when a user's score drifts too far.

      Also neat was the stuff with the pinhole cameras that use computer aided recognition on the smartphone to count T-cells or whatever else they could make that apparatus do, maybe indicate staph from a throat swab.

      Could spawn a whole new generation of medical accessories for smartphones/PCs. Could also spawn a whole new generati

    • Not only would an iPhone 4 be cheaper than the current available equipment, you can also use an iPod touch which cuts the cost even further and more likely to be available.
    • http://www.seeingisbelieving.ca/cell/dacca/ [seeingisbelieving.ca] It does not address your large screen smart phone entry but a single cell phone can be the next step up in communication and technology for a community. However, If the community sees an advantage of getting a single smart phone with screen with useful applications then the health of the community will increase, meaning less days sick, unable to see, etc.
    • by VTI9600 (1143169)

      This is great for countries that lack opticians with basic equiptment yet somehow have lots of people with large screened smartphones?

      The point is that they developed a new method of measuring visual impairment. The fact that they used a cell phone LCD screen is irrelevant. They would have used the cheapest possible method for attaching a programmable LCD display to their apparatus. This time it just happened to be a Nexus One (According to TFA, they never actually tried the iPhone).

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @11:50AM (#32786546)

    Great idea for the developed world too.

    I'd like an app like that for Linux so people can test their vision at home, multiple times, and optimize prescriptions for different distances (for example, close work like soldering).

    With the availability of an eye test app, people who know their eye health is good can refine their prescription cheaply (buying online instead of getting ass-raped for the same lens/frame combo locally) and save playing eye test/prescription/purchase roulette.

    • Here in the developed world, this $2 device will cost $1000, because it will be classified as a medical device and thus require lots of testing to satisfy the FDA, and kickbacks to keep the opticians from trying to ban it due to it stealing their jobs.
      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Here in the developed world, this $2 device will cost $1000, because it will be classified as a medical device and thus require lots of testing to satisfy the FDA, and kickbacks to keep the opticians from trying to ban it due to it stealing their jobs.

        So just call it a "health supplement" and you'll be good to go.

    • by foobsr (693224)
      The Freiburg Vision Test (‘FrACT’) may be a start.

      Quote: "The “Freiburg Vision Test” encompasses the “Freiburg Visual Acuity & Contrast Test” (FrACT) and Vernier Test to assess acuity and other visual functions. It is a free computer program that uses psychometric methods combined with anti-aliasing and dithering to provide automated, self-paced measurement of visual acuity (Bach 1996), contrast sensitivity and vernier acuity ..."

      http://www.michaelbach.de/fract/ [michaelbach.de]
    • Unfortunately here in the US this would require a change to the law the healthcare industry bought that says you can't buy contacts or prescription glasses without a recent (within one year) prescription from an optometrist. Both contacts and prescription eyeglasses are classified as "medical devices".

      I've had the *exact* same prescription for 15 years (I have the slightest astigmatism in my right eye, I only glasses for coding to avoid eye strain). If I lose or break my glasses, I can't just go get another

      • by Entropius (188861)

        I had this experience too, and it pissed me off -- even more so since I know enough optics to test my eyes myself (for garden-variety myopia). Do you have a citation for the law?

      • > Unfortunately here in the US this would require a change to the law the
        > healthcare industry bought...

        The industry would love to be able to sell you glasses over the counter (or over the Web). You wanted "regulation" and "oversight". You got it.

        Last time I needed new glasses I went to America's Best and got two pairs plus an exam for $70.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "Unfortunately here in the US this would require a change to the law the healthcare industry bought that says you can't buy contacts or prescription glasses without a recent (within one year) prescription from an optometrist. Both contacts and prescription eyeglasses are classified as "medical devices"... It's quite a racket."

        Fuck the law, just buy online and lie about the prescription. I'll lie to anyone who obstructs me for no good reason. I don't owe human obstacles anything. They can cram their scam whe

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Well, I can see why there would be regulation on the manufacture and labeling of medical oxygen, since it needs to be fit for purpose and the reading on the pressure gauge being right could be a matter of life or death if somebody doesn't bring enough with them.

          However, I agree completely that regulating the SALE of medical oxygen is just crazy.

          Frankly, I don't think there should be any need to regulate the sale of any drug or medical device, with the exception of those that could cause disproportionate har

      • by shaitand (626655)

        try buying disposables online or cheap chinese import glasses

        • Any legitimate online retailer (1800contacts, etc) requires a prescription, they won't break the law.

          Now, considering you can fax them the prescription rather than providing them with your optometrist's contact info, a little work with a scanner and a graphics package would prob do the trick ... but it's still not legal.

          • by shaitand (626655)

            what does legality have to do with anything? seriously, who cares if its legal?

            My idea of legitimate is delivering the product I purchased in accord with the description and without tricks or low quality.

            Any of the first ten results on google fit that bill. Hell of them are in US. Yes they require you to have a script, says so right on the page. But they don't require you prove it via contact info or fax, the only 'proof' required is to input it.

            • Believe it or not, most people are fairly law abiding and follow directions.

              Geeks, somewhat by nature, seem to be ok with "gaming" the system (and I'm not excluding myself).

      • by sjames (1099)

        The U.S. has a serious need to fix the laws surrounding medical care anyway. Mandatory insurance is just an insult, as if making it mandatory somehow magically makes it affordable.

        One recent legal-medical atrocity was Colchicine. The drug was grandfathered in and so never had to have FDA approval and that apparently ticked them off mightily. In spite of centuries of safe use, the FDA granted a single company exclucivity in exchange for an abbreviated set of studies aimed primarily at stroking egos at the F

        • It's even more vicious than that, however.

          Healthcare costs are jacked through the roof, in part, because the healthcare industry knows the insurance industry will pay for it. They effectively charge the most the insurance company will pay. No insurance? Unless you're dealing with a doctor/practice with some part of their soul left intact, you pretty much can't afford it.

          My dentist, for example, offers a "cash discount". Translation: We can't hammer an insurance company so we'll just charge you what it shoul

          • by sjames (1099)

            My dentist, for example, offers a "cash discount". Translation: We can't hammer an insurance company so we'll just charge you what it should cost in the first place.

            Even that price is outrageous, but it's not the Dentist's fault. He has to charge that much because he has to pay outrageous prices for equipment and supplies. Replace a few $10,000 and $100,000 pieces of equipment with $100 an $1000 pieces of equipment and suddenly he can charge you a lot less on the cash discount plan.

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @11:56AM (#32786588) Homepage
    Not only is it great for developing countries. It's great for those of us in countries like the USA, Canada, Easter Europe, and many other places. Health care costs are increasing. It's about time we came up with some ways to make health care cheaper. My province spends half of it's revenue on health care. I would love for them to start using ideas like this to make it possible for lower skilled people who demand less money to give medical care in simple cases such as prescribing glasses, so that doctor's have more time for real important stuff and also so that health care costs would go down. With all the advancements in science it seems that health care is just getting more and more expensive. Really, we should be using those advancements to make it cheap and accessible to all.
    • by dbcad7 (771464)
      Just try buying glasses by telling them what your phone prescription is.. I doubt they will do it.
      • But I'm sure your smartphone taking your prescription, uploading the data to your Google Health account, and having Costco/Walmart make the glasses at their facility and overnight them to you isn't as far off as you'd think.
    • by Inda (580031)
      Those of us?

      Those of us, who sit at a monitor all day, get free yearly eye tests in the UK.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @02:05PM (#32787400) Homepage

      It's great for those of us in countries like the USA, Canada, Easter Europe

      It's really not needed in Easter Europe; they all have good eyesight, what with being bunnies... who eat lots of carrots... which are good for your eyes...

      I'll show myself out.

    • But in the US, eye tests aren't expensive. Health insurance does not cover corrective optics normally. Yo either have to get separate insurance, or pay yourself. The cost of the separate insurance generally works out to the same cost you'd pay yourself, just spread out. The most expensive you usually see is around $100 and that's at a private optician's office and is usually quite a comprehensive test. $50 is not that hard to find at chain locations.

      The expensive part of corrective optics is not the test, i

  • now that is really really cool - much more impressive to me than a patent on a battery holder. Kudos to the developers, I hope they make something of it !

    • now that is really really cool - much more impressive to me than a patent on a battery holder. Kudos to the developers, I hope they make something of it !

      Agreed, definitely cool, but it does sound a little like cartridge alignment on inkjet printer.

      --
      Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] for iPhone. Classic Scientific and HEX functionality plus RPN, fractions, complex numbers, dotted quads, 32/64-bit signed/unsigned bitwise operations, UTF-8, IEEE FP decode, and RGB decode with color preview.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by skids (119237)

        First, align your thermal laser etcher. Then align your eyeball. Then insert plastic sheet and print your eyeglasses. Do not operate with cover open!

  • "This could have broad application in the developing world, where experienced opticians and diagnostic equipment are hard to come by"

    but Nexus ones and iPhone 4s grow on trees.

  • Josh Silver already has a better way to correct vision, and at a much cheaper cost too. No need for an optometrist either.
    Movie demonstration: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/josh_silver_demos_adjustable_liquid_filled_eyeglasses.html [ted.com]
    Text Article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=adjustable-eyeglasses-poor [scientificamerican.com]
    • That's awesome! What I wouldn't give for a pair of the eyeglasses-mounted loupes like dentists/surgeons wear that could do that.
    • As has been pointed out already: No.

      You can have a $100 set of adjustable glasses or you can have one guy with this app and a box full of $2 perscription glasses that he can then match to everybody in line.

  • This will be great to be sure my vision is good while driving. Don't worry, I can multitask.
  • If you could tie this in with your OS with some useful tools so that it could make a useful profile for your desktop environment based on your visual acuity.

    I'm legally blind myself (-23 diopters in both eyes) and I also sometimes help visually impaired kids customise their desktops for better use.

    Obviously there's no one size fits all approach and configuring DPI, colour etc; in a UI is a very personal thing but I'm sure this could be of use for PCs and even cellphone user interfaces.

  • Come on. How many times do you need to check your eyes. And shouldn't somebody do this that has an idea of what they are doing?

    • Right. Far better that millions have no access to such a test at all than that people be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they can handle it.

    • Come on. How many times do you need to check your eyes. And shouldn't somebody do this that has an idea of what they are doing?

      That's a fair question to ask.

      Particularly for the very young or very old, or anyone with a complex medical history, a diabetic, for example.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Yes, but many of these people won't get checked out for retinopathy. Instead they'll just suffer with blurry vision. There is no reason that a prescription shouldn't be free and eyeglasses shouldn't be $15 at Walmart. A machine can do the former just fine, and the latter is just some metal and plastic. Sure, it won't be as good as what we currently spend $200 on, but does it have to be? Nobody is saying that we need to prevent doctors from offering the $200 exam to those who need it.

        If somebody invente

  • ...can I sell it for most of what I'd pay for it? Otherwise I'm better of going to America's Best and getting an exam plus two pairs of glasses for $70.

    This might actually be interesting if it worked on a computers other than "smartphones" and required no special device.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Or the America's Best could use it instead of the hyper-expensive device and pass the savings in overhead on to you.

  • PUB CRAWL! (Score:3, Funny)

    by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Saturday July 03, 2010 @12:43PM (#32786906) Journal

    Repeating this with bars in different locations

    ... won't your vision be affected by all the booze?

    and orientations

    ... straight, gay, leather fetish, republican ...

    I thought Apple wouldn't approve stuff like that?

  • How cost effective is this? Sure it's only a $2 adapter, but then you need a $400-$700 phone to attach it to (that's the actual price of the hardware mentioned, when not subsidized by a long term monthly contract, which costs even more). Surely for $400 someone could build a standalone vision testing device that is more accurate?
  • Can I get my health insurance to buy me a shiny new 4g Iphone?

  • Strange, I didn't know it would be so easy to check for oneself like that. It makes me wonder what else can be done without the need to visit a health specialist.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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