Could your phone help to prevent blindness and glaucoma?

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Usually, we think of smartphones and the blue light that they emit as causing damage to our eye, but what if they could be used to prevent blindness?

While blue light from screens on smartphones can prematurely age our eyes and cause eye strain, retina damage and age-related macular degeneration, it may also be a useful tool in discovering more difficult to detect eye diseases.

A new study suggests that smartphones could be used to scan people’s eyes for early warning signs of glaucoma and prevent blindness.

Glaucoma is a traditionally difficult eye disease to detect, with few risk factors displayed before the onset of the condition.

Read more: How to fight eye fatigue

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is estimated to affect 79.6 million people worldwide, and, if left untreated, causes irreversible damage.

In most cases, blindness can be prevented with appropriate control and treatment.

Glaucoma is associated with high levels of intraocular pressure (IOP), which is the fluid pressure inside the eye, but this is normally very difficult to measure in a non-invasive way.

Scientists at the University of Birmingham, however, have found a way to measure the fluid pressure inside the eye using soundwaves that can accurately detect when the pressure is increasing over time, which could lead to early diagnosis and treatment.

Read more: Seven eye health mistakes that put your sight at risk

Having high fluid pressure in the eyes is most common in older adults and risk increases with age, and the presence of this increasing pressure leads to an increased likelihood of an individual developing glaucoma.

Dr Khamis Essa, from the University of Birmingham, explained that they were able to successfully carry out the experiments using soundwaves and an eye model.

“We discovered a relationship between the internal pressure of an object and its acoustic reflection,” Dr Essa said.

“With further investigation into eye geometry and how this affects the interaction with soundwaves, it possible to use a smartphone to accurately measure IOP from the comfort of the user’s home.”

Read more: What are eye floaters?

The current ‘gold standard’ of measuring fluid pressure in the eye is applying numbing drops onto the eye followed by non-toxic dye but there are problems and measurement errors associated with this method.

To protect your eyes, it is still recommended to limit the amount of time you spend looking at screens or use filters and computer glasses that reduce the amount of blue light emanating from your screen.

Are you worried about age-related eye conditions? How good is your eyesight now? Have you noticed your eyesight deteriorating faster as you age?

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Written by Ben


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