A lot of the tech you see on crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo may seem trivial, but sometimes, incredibly useful and life-changing technology makes its way onto the sites. Take the Peek Retina project, for example. It’s a smartphone camera adapter and app that allows the user to conduct extensive eye exams on patients in any part of the world.
A team of eye care professionals, software developers, and product designers came together to create the small adapter and companion app with the goal of bringing high-quality eye care to parts of the world where most people don’t have access to doctors, let alone optometrists. Peek Retina’s creators worked together with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Strathclyde, and the NHS Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic Research to bring the project to life.
The team created a small, cheap camera adapter that fits onto a smartphone and syncs with an app on the device. Together, these two components allow eye care professionals examine patients’ eyes without ophthalmoscopes, bulky cameras, or other big, expensive equipment. The Peek Retina will help doctors treat children, adults, and the elderly who have no access to eye care around the world. It can be used in basic, preventative exams, as well as help treatment for cataracts and other serious eye problems. Based on the information doctors see in the images, they can also detect diabetes and high blood pressure, two conditions that often cause eye-related problems.
“Around 39 million people are blind,” Peek’s creator Dr Andrew Bastawrous said in an interview with Mashable. “Eighty percent of this blindness is avoidable, but in many regions people don’t have access to eye care.”
After showing the peek Retina adapter and app to other eye care specialists, the team managed to secure funding from the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in 2013. The team will use that money to test the kit for five years in isolated communities in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, and India, as well as the UK.
In the meantime, the team is trying to fund more research and the creation of many eye care kits with an Indiegogo campaign. To support the campaign, you can give one to an eye care professional who wants to do good for just 60 pounds or about $95. Unfortunately, since it’s not FDA approved, you can’t get one in the United States, but you can still send one to doctors around the world through the campaign.
So far, the Peek Retina should work with most iPhones, Samsung, HTC, and Sony smartphones. Assuming everything goes well with the campaign and external backers and government organizations continue to fund the project, the kit will ship in October 2015. You can back the project here.