Doctors Are Using Smartphones For Eye Tests On Small Children

Early screenings can prevent amblyopia, the leading cause of childhood blindness, but less than 20% of preschool age children are tested for the condition.

Sure, pediatricians test the eyes of infants and toddlers with boards or charts showing pictures and symbols.  But, getting a useful result from a young, oftentimes pre-verbal child is challenging.  "Even at 3 years old, half of the kids are cooperative and able to do it and the other half can’t do it," explains Dr. Jennifer Stahl of Mia Bella Pediatrics in Mission Viejo, California.  Kids can have a more sophisticated test at a specialist but it's unusual for them to visit one unless a problem is already known.

So, an Arizona-based company has come-up with a high-tech solution to give more pediatricians easy, inexpensive access to a tool that can help with early vision testing.

“The whole mission is to bring a specialty test - that really only a pediatric opthamologist could perform at a young age - into the primary care setting," says Andrew Burns, CEO of Gobiquity Mobile Health.  “Our research showed that less than 10 percent of pediatricians were able to ever perform a photo screening and be able to test children at a young age.”

Believe it or not, it's all done through a smartphone.  “It’s a new method of delivering this test," says Burns of GoCheck Kids, the world's first and only pediatric vision screener on a smartphone.  The test is as simple as having a photo taken.  Photoscreening - approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics - involves a photograph of the child's eye which can be analyzed in real-time.  Using the smartphone's camera and flash, GoCheck Kids detects a child's retinal reflex to help doctors identify amblyopia risk factors (ARF) for children, ages 1 to 5.  The test also includes screening for hyperopia and myopia - far and near sightedness.

According to GoBiquity, 400 million people will be diagnosed with vision disorders by 2020.  80% of those problems are preventable.  Just recently, Stahl detected problems with a 6 month old's vision.  Now, he is wearing glasses, enabling him to comprehend and learn better as he grows.  “I personally know a few adults that have eye misalignment because of vision problems that they had as a young child and it’s exciting to be able to fix these things at an earlier age," says Stahl.

Parents can ask their pediatricians about GoCheck Kids which is being used in practices nationwide, including locations in Stamford and Litchfield.

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