Doctors Can See Glaucoma Patients Vision Through iPad App

March 8, 2021, 10:23 a.m. ·

Patients use blur options on the app to reflect what they see in the poster and what they don't on the app (Photo Courtesy British Journal of Ophthalmology)

Doctors have been studying eyes for years and for the first time, ophthalmologists are able to understand what their glaucoma patients see, all through an iPad app. Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that causes loss of peripheral vision.

Dr. Deepta Ghate is an associate professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Ophthalmology and collaborated with students at the College of Information Science and Technology to develop the app and study it in 12 glaucoma patients. Dr. Ghate said she wanted to develop the app to understand the blind spots her patients see in their vision. The study was recently published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

"What happens is, the patient will come in and look at a large poster. This poster covers the entire wall and this poster is what their peripheral vision looks like because it extends all the way," she said. "But, the app is small and it has a copy of that picture. So they compare what they should see, which is the central region on the app with what they actually see, which is that big wall poster. And then they make changes to the app to reflect their actual vision."

Dr. Ghate said glaucoma is a silent disease because the brain makes up for the blind spots with more surroundings and about 50 to 70% of glaucoma in the United States is still undiagnosed.

"My hope is that the app will encourage people to realize how much vision they have lost, and be more compliant with their follow up visits with their medications," she said.

Dr. Ghate said people should get a full eye exam by age 40 because glaucoma is preventable. The app is available as a research tool for now but could be available to the public in a few months.