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iPad Eye Scan

A team of researchers from the University of Iowa, the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, and the Tilganga Eye Institute in Nepal have tested an app for the iPad that they say can be used for glaucoma screening.

According to NPR's Shots blog, the researchers tested an off-the-shelf free app called Visual Fields Easy to screen about 200 patients in Nepal. They said the app was "very good at identifying people with moderate to severe disease," but didn't work as well when screening out people with normal vision.

Lead researcher Chris Johnson, director of the Visual Field Reading Center at the University of Iowa, presented the study yesterday at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in Chicago. He told the Shots blog that the app "works much better than I expected."

The researchers believe that conducting such screenings using a tablet could be an effective initial screening tool for high-risk groups, such as people of African or Hispanic ancestry, the elderly, and people with limited or no access to traditional eye and health care.

Meanwhile, the Shots blog noted that other researchers at the meeting presented devices that can be used on a smart phone for diagnostic purposes. David Myung, chief resident at Stanford University Hospital, showed off one such device that clips onto an iPhone and is being developed for diabetic retinopathy.