CERA and WHO increase access to vision screening
WHOEyes is a new app developed by CERA and distributed by the World Health Organization to let anyone with a smartphone check and monitor their vision.
An app developed at CERA alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to increase access to vision tests and reduce preventable vision loss worldwide.
WHOeyes is an app that allows anybody with a smartphone to test their vision and learn about protecting their eyes.
The app is not a replacement for regular vision tests, but helps people identify potential problems early so they can seek professional care.
“Globally, more than one billion people have a vision impairment that could be easily addressed with surgery or a simple pair of glasses,” says Dr Tedros.
“Regular check-ups can ensure that eye disease is detected early, and vision loss is prevented.”
WHOEyes can be used by anyone but will be particularly useful in countries where healthcare is difficult to access.
Principal Investigator Ophthalmic Epidemiology Dr Lisa Zhuoting Zhu says WHOEyes will provide teachers in remote schools with an easy way of spotting vision issues that would affect a child’s education.
“If vision loss is observed among the children, they can be referred to an eye specialist to check whether they have refractive errors such as severe cases of short or far sightedness, or lazy eye.”
Dr Zhu says the app will also be helpful for older people and those living in remote and rural areas without access to eye specialists.
“If people can test their visual acuity at home, it will mean they won’t have to travel unnecessarily.”
Refractive errors aren’t the only cause of vision loss, and Dr Zhu says WHOeyes could also be an effective triage tool for eye disease.
“Often by the time people visit an eye specialist, they may already have the later stages of eye disease.
“By testing vision annually or every six months, you can notice smaller changes in vision and detect any issues earlier.”
How it works
Anyone with a smartphone can download WHOeyes to test how clear their vision is – much like an optometrist would using a conventional eye chart.
The app lets the user test their short or long-distance vision in one of six languages.
It automatically detects the distance between the smartphone and user to make sure tests are accurate.
Depending on the user’s results, the app may recommend seeking an eye care professional for further testing.
Dr Zhu suggests people using the app track their results.
“Next time you take the test, you can compare your results with your previous one,” she says.
“It’s best to track your results annually or every six months.”
The WHOeyes project team was led by Professor Mingguang He and includes Dr Zhu, CERA Research Fellow and Deputy Director WHO Collaborating Centre Dr Katerina Kiburg, and former CERA colleagues Dr Stuart Keel and Dr Andreas Mueller from WHO.
This project is supported by the Google Impact Challenge.