Monitoring eye health with smartphone apps
3 July 2023
We have funded innovation grants for Dr Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi and Dr Dawn Sim to explore how smartphone apps could improve care for patients.
Patients with chronic eye conditions need to be closely monitored at all times. This is because any changes in their eye must be spotted quickly as, unless they are treated, such changes can quickly lead to irreversible sight loss.
Booking regular routine hospital appointments is inconvenient for patients and makes it harder for clinicians to prioritise those that most need urgent treatment to protect their sight.
Researchers are therefore now investigating whether smartphone apps that scan the eye and estimate the risks to the patient’s sight could help improve the monitoring of common chronic eye conditions.
Personalised feedback with RetinaRisk
Dr Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi, lead nurse for research at Moorfields, received funding to explore if the smartphone app RetinaRisk could improve patient care for diabetic retinopathy.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication in patients with high blood sugar levels and the leading cause of sight loss in people aged 20-69.
She found that such smartphone apps were welcomed by patients, since they provided individualised and regular feedback on the current state of their eye conditions at home in an accessible way (using a ‘red-amber-green’ traffic light scale).
Prioritising patients with AllEye
We also awarded an innovation grant to Dr Dawn Sim, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields, to trial a smartphone app called AllEye to help Moorfields patients with macular disease to self-monitor their eye health at home.
What is macular disease?
Various painless conditions that impact the central retina, known as the macula, located at the rear of the eye, fall under the term ‘macular disease’. These conditions differ in terms of their frequency, underlying causes, and available treatment.
The spectrum of macular diseases includes:
- Stargardt disease
- Vitelliform macular dystrophy and Best disease,
- Central serous chorioretinopathy
- Epiretinal membrane (macular pucker)
- Macular hole
- Macular telangiectasia
- Myopic macular degeneration
- Retinal detachment
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Retinal vein occlusion
- Vitreomacular traction syndrome
- Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) with floaters
Her research found that AllEye was broadly effective in raising the alarm when macular disease worsened and it was likely treatment was needed.
This allowed clinicians to quickly identify and prioritise those patients who needed treatment to protect their sight.
Eye care smartphone apps would empower patients to better participate in managing their own care and help clinicians to prioritise those patients who need care urgently.
The next step is to further evaluate these apps, their validity and scope in identifying worsening eye health, before they can be relied upon for routine monitoring of patients with chronic eye conditions.