Reuters Health: iPhones May Have a Use in the Emergency Room

By Gerard Longo, Assistant Editor — July 17, 2012

A Reuters Health article suggests that iPhone cameras may soon play an integral role in the diagnosis and treatment in eye conditions of patients who are unable to immediately get to an ophthalmologist.

A study cited by Reuters completed by the Department of Ophthalmology at Emory University in Atlanta stated that the two ophthalmologists who participated in the study rated photos displayed on the iPhone as being of higher quality than those displayed on a desktop computer.

The photos were taken of the interior eyes of 350 patients with eye and vision problems with an ocular camera. Each ophthalmologist who participated in the study then reviewed 100 photos apiece based on the display quality on each device.

According to Reuters, both reviewers rated a vast majority of the photos displayed on the iPhone as being of greater or equal quality when compared to those displayed on the desktop computer.

This is a development that, according to Dr. Rohit Krishna of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, could help emergency room doctors give a more immediate prognosis when dealing with eye injuries after consulting remotely with an eye specialist.

"(Non-eye doctors) don't always feel really comfortable with eye care," Krishna said in the Reuters article, "so having tools in your pocket that enable you to do ophthalmologic examination elements are a great asset."

According to Reuters, Krishna continued to praise the new development, stating that iPhone cameras could not only display the photos - they are also capable of taking photos of less-complex, superficial eye injuries, such as those to the eyelid or the front of the eye.

Other doctors, though, would caution against using this development as a quick fix for all eye injuries. Dr. Charles Wykoff of the Retina Consultants of Houston warned that some problems may not be detectable by a photograph alone.

"The concern for me is possibly false reassurance when there's a normal picture," Wykoff told Reuters Health. "I don't think it replaces the need for a complete eye exam."

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