A Phone App That Can Detect Eye Disease In Kids

Mobile phones are our digital friend. From booking a ticket to taking the perfect selfie to share joyful moments of life a phone has it all. And now your little digital friend can also act as a primary doctor for detecting eye disease in your kids.

In a new study published in Science Advances, the researchers claimed that they have created an app that scans your children’s eyes in photographs to detect look for early signs of “white eye”, hinting at possible retinoblastoma, cataracts and other conditions. The app named CRADLE (Computer-Assisted Detector of Leukocoria) uses machine learning to do this.

Cradle app
Munson et al., Sci. Adv. 2019

The researchers used nearly 52,000 “casual photos” of 20 children to develop the app. While half of the children have an eye disease. The AI system spotted 16 instances an average of 1.3 years before doctors made a diagnosis. Dr Shaw one of the developers of the app came up with the idea for the app after his son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both his eyes when he was four months old.

GPs and opticians look for signs of eye disorders during children’s routine appointments by performing red reflex tests – where an instrument is used to shine light into the pupils to spot eye problems. A red reflection means everything is normal but if a white reflection is seen, it could be a sign of an eye problem. However, sometimes these routine checks can fail to spot the white eye as the pupil needs to be dilated to allow a clear view of the retina at the back of the eye. Ophthalmologists are better at spotting white eye as they use eye drops to increase the size of pupils when carrying out the red reflex tests.

Well, the app works regardless of age though those children will benefit the most who can’t say they have an eye disease. One thing should be noted that the app isn’t FDA-approved and doesn’t constitute a diagnosis. So you should always consult a professional for the diagnostic and conformation.

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