Monitoring Eye Degeneration at Home

Degenerative eye disease detected by iPhone or iPad apps

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In many cases vision loss is preventable if patients get regular eye exams. A new device will allow degenerative eye disease patients to better track vision changes, preventing unnecessary vision loss.

The new hand-held digital device called myVisionTrack, which will be available as an app, lets patients perform accurate self tests in less than 90 seconds from the comfort of their own homes.

"Ask you eye doctor about home tests for degenerative eye disease."

Dr. Yu-Guang He, an associate professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said that many patients may not have timely access to eye exams and wind up experiencing vision loss that was preventable. He said careful self-monitoring is critical because treatment for age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy is most effective at precise stages during the progression of the disease.

Dr. Christopher Quinn, an optometrist with Omni Eye Services, said such a device, "might be a useful adjunct to regular exams if it is validated."

About 13 million in the United States are currently affected by degenerative eye disease. As much as 25 percent of the population could be affected by 2020 as the population continues to age.

The new home test is supplied as an app for iPhone or iPod Touch. The test displays three circles on a screen, one that is considerably different from the others. Patients are asked to cover one eye and pick out the circle that is different. After each choice is made, the difference between the circles becomes more subtle. The test is then repeated with the other eye.

The device will store results, and patients will be advised to visit their doctor if a significant vision change is detected. Dr. He said that the test is twice as sensitive as the paper eye chart generally used to detect vision changes. The paper test resembles graph paper and has a black dot in the center that patients are asked to focus their eyes on.

The myVisionTrack device was produced by Vital Art and Science Inc., a biotech firm that recently received approval for up to $1 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to develop the product.

The prototype device has been tested during an eight-month clinical study funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute. During the study, 40 diabetic patients with retinopathy used the monitoring device at home on a weekly basis. Test results for those patients had a high correlation with an ophthalmologist’s reading of their retinal images, taken at the beginning, midpoint and end of the study.

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Review Date: 
July 26, 2011
Last Updated:
August 1, 2011