Researchers at the school for really smart people, MIT, have come up with a novel way to conduct eye exams--looking into your mobile phone screen. With some custom software and a small plastic device, this can be done very inexpensively, making it possible for people in poverty-stricken countries to get prescriptions quickly.
According to MIT News, the system could be implemented like this:
In its simplest form, the test can be carried out using a small, plastic device clipped onto the front of a cell phone's screen.
The patient looks into a small lens, and presses the phone's arrow keys until sets of parallel green and red lines just overlap. This is repeated eight times, with the lines at different angles, for each eye.
The whole process takes less than two minutes, at which point software loaded onto the phone provides the prescription data.
Watch the video below to get an idea of how Netra (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment) works. This appears to be an excellent idea. Even if folks in remote, developing-world locations don't have mobile phones that can run the app, aid workers probably will. They can bring lots of used glasses to help the underprivileged, but will still need tools to assign the correct prescriptions.
(Source: Crave Asia)