“Smartphone Science” in Eye Care and Medicine

Vasudevan Lakshminarayanan, John Zelek and Annette McBride

The smartphone is beginning to offer low-cost competition for some expensive medical diagnostics, particularly in areas where access to funds, medical professionals and equipment is scarce.


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The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies will underscore the role of optics and photonics in improving the quality of life worldwide. And for the delivery of medicine and healthcare, some of those improvements may come in a surprising package: the smartphone that you carry in your pocket or purse. Advances in processing power, connectivity and sensor technology are creating opportunities for smartphones as a cost-effective, portable alternative to expensive diagnostic equipment—one that can transform aspects of medical care in low-resource and field settings [see Viewpoint by Richards-Kortum and Carns]. In this article, we survey a few interesting developments in this smartphone science, particularly those relevant to care of an aging population and to applications in eye care.

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