A team of researchers led by Media Lab Camera Culture group director at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Professor Ramesh Raskar have been working on inexpensive way to conduct refractive eye test by using smartphones. The technique is called NETRA – short for Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment. The team has further refined the technique to detect early-stage cataracts, which is characterized by clouding of eye lens. Cataracts is the the leading cause of blindness worldwide. The tool is named as Catra.
How does Catra work?
Catra is made of off-the-shelf components and is simple to use:
- Clip a small plastic device in front of your cell phone or iPod Touch screen.
- Look into a small lens and press phone’s arrow keys so that sets of parallel green and red lines overlap.
- When the lines appear cloudy, press a button.
The device scans the lens of the eye to create a map of the cloudy areas, which are produced by proteins clumping together. Catra has capability to identify the position, size, shape, and density of the clouds, and hence can produce a diagnosis of cataracts in minutes.
justify;">What is the main advantage of Catra?
Catra offers quick and inexpensive way of detecting cataract in the developing world, where few have access to the expensive slit lamps and clinicians used to diagnose the disorder.
Have researchers tested Catra in clinical setting?
Catra has been tested in clinical setting on small scale on 22 people, and it found one case of cataracts that had been undiagnosed, despite an eye test at a doctor’s office a few months prior, according to MIT.
I think MIT team has developed a useful diagnostic tool for needs of the developing countries. I hope that team gathers more data on the device and is ready to offer it to the users soon.