Traditional funduscopy is on the decline, particularly outside of eye care practices, and the technical demands of traditional direct ophthalmoscope examination are likely contributing. Alternative funduscopy technologies like mobile phone cameras with appropriate adapters are increasingly available, yet comparisons between them are lacking. A recent study found that of these competing modalities, smartphone funduscopy was significantly more useful and easier to use. These two factors alone are the “best predictors of future technology use,” the researchers noted.

This cross-sectional, randomized crossover study evaluated 146 second-year medical students’ survey responses to inquiries about different funduscopy methods, including a non-mydriatic fundus camera, two types of direct funduscopy and three types of smartphone funduscopy.

The students rated both the perceived usefulness and ease of use of smartphone funduscopy significantly higher than both the non-mydriatic camera and direct funduscopy approaches.

“Educators should optimize student access to novel funduscopy technologies, such as smartphone funduscopy, which may mitigate the technical challenges of funduscopy and reinvigorate use of this valuable clinical examination,” the study authors concluded in their paper. “If funduscopy is easier to perform and interpret, students may find it easier to train, and clinicians [will be] more likely to perform funduscopy in clinical practice.”

Dunn HP, Kang CJ, Marks S, et al. Perceived usefulness and ease of use of fundoscopy by medical students: a randomised crossover trial of six technologies (eFOCUS 1). BMC Med Educ. 2021;21:41.