Mobile app puts full exam in your hand.
What if your entire exam lane could fit in your pocket? Where would you go with it? Perhaps you’d take it to the remotest parts of the world where it’s too difficult to transport all the usual equipment to perform eye exams?

That’s the idea behind Peek (portable eye examination kit), which packs a range of ophthalmic tests into a typical smartphone.

The goal: To allow trained personnel (not necessarily eye doctors) to take detailed diagnostic evaluations of people in all areas of the world who might otherwise never have access to an eye exam.

Developed by a team in the UK, Peek combines a mobile app and a clip-on eyepiece to provide a number of optical tests and ophthalmic evaluation procedures. “Peek can diagnose blindness, visual impairment, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal and optic nerve diseases, and crucial indicators of brain tumor and hemorrhage,” the developers stated in a news release.

The device is not yet available, but is being field tested in Kenya, Antarctica and Scotland.

“Preliminary results show it is effective at picking up conditions such as optic disc cupping, pale nerves and swollen nerves,” says one of Peek’s head developers, ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous, MRCOphth, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The device not only performs eye tests, it stores each patient’s contact information and GPS data. This information is integrated with Google Maps, creating a novel way to follow up and treat patients in far-flung regions.

It’s not intended to be used by the general public to self-diagnose. “Peek does not replace an examination by a trained health care professional,” Dr. Bastawrous says.

The inventors hope to release Peek next year. It currently runs on Android 4.0, but they anticipate it will be available for use across all platforms. They expect the app to be widely available and probably free, and the clip-on hardware to be sold at a reasonable cost.

Eye doctors who want to beta-test Peek (and are willing to provide feedback) before its official release can contact the developers through the Peek website: