Retina screening now over mobile phone

‘Sudarshan’ allows doctors to hold off-site camps to detect and review conditions like diabetic retinopathy
Last Updated : 13 June 2023, 21:02 IST

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An eye hospital from Bengaluru has unveiled a tech project to make retinal screenings more accessible. Called Sudarshan, it involves examination of retina screenings, captured on a portable tech via a smartphone, at a reading centre.

Diabetes is the most common vision-threatening problem of the retina and requires periodic reviews. The project would allow doctors to hold off-site camps to monitor the status of conditions such as diabetic retinopathy in patients, identify new cases, and make timely referrals.

The project is developed by Sankara Eye Hospital, Bengaluru, in collaboration with the University of Bonn, Germany. Dr Payal Shah, who is co-heading it with colleague Dr Divyansh Mishra, says, “Infrastructure for retinal screening is not as common as that for cataract or refractive errors.”

She breaks down the process: A lens and an adaptor are strapped on to a smartphone to capture images of the retina. The images are sent to the reading centre in Bengaluru and reviewed for abnormalities by ophthalmologists in real time. Being an integrated solution, AI also analyses the images.

Traditionally, a fundus camera is used to capture the images of the retina and the rear portion of the eye and it costs Rs 2.5 lakh and up a piece. “It’s not possible for every vision centre in remote areas to invest in a fundus camera. On the other hand, the lens (we use) costs Rs 20,000, and everybody carries smartphones,” Dr Payal points out the difference.

The team ran a pilot for over two years before formalising Sudarshan recently. “We screened about 600 patients at our vision centres in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and another 590 at the diabetes camps we held in and around Bengaluru,” she shares.

She says the quality of retinal images captured are “more or less the same” as the output of a fundus camera. The quality is determined by the clarity and sharpness of blood vessels, blood vessel abnormalities, and cholesterol deposits. “The field of view may be less but we train the field staff to ask the patients to look into the camera from different angles. We also train them to keep the smartphone steady,”she says. The AI analysis is “98-99% accurate”, she adds.

Screenings at the camps are free. Contact 080-6903 8900 for details

Published 13 June 2023, 20:53 IST

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