There are an estimated 2 billion people worldwide who have refractive errors in their vision, but the cost of optometry equipment often puts examinations out of reach in the developing world. Which spurred Ramesh Raskar at MIT to built a simple little $2 device that clips to a cell phone and, along with an app, gives a basic eye exam in two minutes then generates the prescription data. The test is limited (it can’t find retina damage, for example), but it can test for astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and presbyopia (age-related vision loss).
The device is called the Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment (NETRA). To use it, the patient looks at sets of parallel green and red lines and uses the phone’s arrow keys to make the lines overlap. They do this with eight sets of lines for each eye.
Preliminary testing has shown that “it can achieve results comparable to the standard aberrometer test” and clinical trials are due to begin shortly. Initially targeting parts of Africa and Asia, the company responsible for manufacture, PerfectSight, is expecting the product to be a boon for the developing world. [GizMag]
The developing world, and bloggers everywhere. It’s not so much that we don’t have the $60 for an eye exam, it’s that this would require going outside. *shudder*