A team of Melbourne doctors have developed computer software which enables patients to get eye test over the internet without the need for a clinician.
At just 25, budding Ophthalmologist Dr William Yan is making a significant impact on his chosen profession.
And, like most successful inventions, he says necessity was the motivation for his “Vision-At-Home” software enabling eye test.
“Really inspired by the health gap in Australia – less than one percent of eye specialists work in remote areas but almost all of these areas have access to the internet.
Dr Yan says using a webcam to measure the distance between the patient and screen offers a diagnosis of their vision capability.
“The system is unique because it enables us to test vision without a clinician being present – the results are as accurate as the gold standard used in a clinic,” he said.
The technology recently received a 750-thousand dollar boost courtesy of a Google innovation grant – which will be used to help advance clinical trials around Australia.
Dr Yan says 90 per cent of the world’s vision impairment occurs in developing nations – making potential applications for the software plentiful.
“The plan is within 3-years to take this to our regional neighbours Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam and also areas with high population density but sophisticated internet access like China and India,” he said.
Remote and regional indigenous Australians are another group tipped to benefit from the eye test technology.
Opthamologist Professor Hugh Taylor from the University of Melbourne says as many as 94 per cent of vision impairment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is preventable.
“Much of the vision we can fix up overnight – you give someone a pair of glasses and they’ll see right away – you do cataract surgery and they’ll see the next day,” he said.
Dr William Tan recently visited a remote community, and says the experience provided affirmation for both his software – and chosen career.
“We performed cataract surgery on a 75-year-old blind lady – her quality of life was essentially bathroom to toilet with a rope for 20 years and after the cataract operation she was able to see her family the next day – and it was a very heartfelt moment for all of us,” he said.
It’s estimated 600,000 Australians currently live with vision impairment.
Online Source: SBS.