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    Smartphones hold implications for retinal screening, beyond

    Digital device technology, apps transforming ophthalmic diagnosis and monitoring at lower costs

    Take-home message: The advent of smartphone devices and applications is transforming the practice of ophthalmology, especially in regard to ophthalmic diagnosis and monitoring. 

    Reviewed by Mark S. Blumenkranz, MD, MMS

    Stanford, CA—Devices and applications developed to work on smartphones are reducing the cost of ophthalmic diagnosis and monitoring, according to Mark S. Blumenkranz, MD, MMS. 

    “We are entering into a new digital age of medicine that has the capacity to really transform how we practice ophthalmology,” said Dr. Blumenkranz, professor of ophthalmology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

    Related: Techie-turned ophthalmologist tinkers through fellowship

    Until now, ophthalmic technology has been increasing in cost, he said.

    He cited the example of a retinal camera for fundus photography that sold for $768 in 1925, the equivalent of $10,000 in 2015 dollars.

    Improvements in technology have often meant increased prices as well as increased costs of care, said Dr. Blumenkranz, adding that fundus photography cameras today range from $40,000 to $100,000.

    Related: Imaging device for newborns may prompt universal vision screening

    By contrast, the cost of computers has decreased in real dollars even as their power has increased.

    “Why doesn’t that translate into medicine?” Dr. Blumenkranz asked. “My argument is that effectively mobile health, or digital medicine is, for the first time, going to be a way to do that.”

    Driving the change


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