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CNET News Video: How the iPhone is zooming in on eye care

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CNET News Video: How the iPhone is zooming in on eye care

2:20 /

Doctors at Stanford University have found a way to use the iPhone to help prevent blindness, particularly in rural areas and developing nations. They're using the iPhone's camera to take pictures inside the eye. CNET's Sumi Das gets an up-close look at the EyeGo device.

If you've ever had an eye exam, you've seen these devices. I can see his retina now. I can see his optic nerve, his [INAUDIBLE] and his retina. To closely examine a patient's eye, doctors use indirect opthalmoscopes and slit lamp instruments. It's it's an excellent device. What it does not let you do is take pictures. If you have some complex findings we spend a lot of time describing it in words, and then the next person who sees the record has to take what I've written and then form a picture in their head. It's an inefficient practice, so a team of ophthalmologists at Stanford University came up with another solution involving their smartphones. We developed an adapter called the iGo adapter that we designed so that, we can easily take photos of the front and back of the eye. EyeGo makes use of items an ophthalmologist likely already owns. A condensing lens and an iPhone, that also keeps cost low the early estimate is under a $100. By comparison, these instruments run thousands of dollars. The lens is held in front of the phone at [UNKNOWN] distance and it takes up the center of the screen and now we are ready to take a picture of Alex' eye. You can see here, this is his optic nerve, right in the middle. Or actually off to the side. And then there, that's what's [UNKNOWN] come off of it and then here here is his [UNKNOWN]. This is what we call the posterior pole. The inventors aren't claiming that EyeGo replaces sophisticated medical equipment but it does offer a way to screen patients in places with limited healthcare facilities. And we'd be able to figure out what's going on with the eye with these photos, things like conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, maybe some things like diabetic retinopathy, hemorrhages in the back of the eye. The ophthalmologist also developed software so images can be secured securely and privately with other physicians. Combined with the adapter the technology holds enormous potential. You can make the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy for instance very, very easily. And an image just like the ones that we can take and in doing that, you can save literally the sight of millions of people over the course of a several years. The team's next step? FDA approval for the EyeGo to make that vision a reality. In Palo Alto, California, I'm Sumi Das, CNet.com, for CBS News. [MUSIC]

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