By IP Koon Ching, optometrist and
student of the Master in Clinical Optometry and Vision Therapy
Vision impairment is one of major worldwide public health issues. The demand on eyecare services is increasing. The expensive cost and bulkiness of ophthalmic diagnostic tools and shortage of labour are main barriers for setting an eye clinic, especially in low- and middle-economy countries. Environmental factors, such as COVID-19, cause a restricted number of medical consultations. Besides, people with poor mobility, such as the elderly, are inaccessible to attend eyecare consultation. An alternative to the existing eye clinic setting is necessary.
As smartphone technologies advance, smartphones have various well-designed settings, including adjustable screen brightness, built-in lighting, high-resolution camera, photo and video storage and internet functions. These functions enable the smartphone to assist in eye examination. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to use a systematic review to explore how smartphones assist eyecare services.
Pubmed was used for searching. Keywords “smartphone” and its related terms “mobile phones” as well as “eyecare” and its related terms “optometry”, “ophthalmology” were used. Articles published in English studying how smartphones contribute in eyecare were included. The initial search yielded 192 studies for the initial title and abstract screening. Of the 61 articles eligible for full-text screening, 35 studies were selected and discussed them in details. The major findings of the reviewed research articles and their statistically significant value were presented. Then, the role of smartphone in eyecare according to its functions (including teleophthalmology, vision health screening and reminder systems) were evaluated. Next, further studies to enhance the use of smartphones in eyecare are recommended. This enables the improvement in eyecare delivery.