A Comenius University medical student uses a Volk lens and a smartphone to examine patients in developing countries

The simple use of a Volk lens and a smartphone is enough for an expert team, including Comenius University medical student Adriána Furdová, to document diagnoses on the fundus of the eye. In this way, it is possible to expand the possibilities of examining patients in hospitals in developing countries which do not have specialized equipment.

18. 07. 2016 11.18 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

Using a smartphone and a Volk lens is a very cheap, easily transportable and easy-to-use method which is applicable in complicated environments and which improves the level of provided health care in developing countries.

A team of experts was sent for one month to a hospital in the village of Mapuordit (South Sudan), where they planned to ophthalmologically examine patients’ visual acuity and the fundus of the eye before distributing glasses which had been collected in Slovakia. They took with them a set of eye lenses, an eyeglass frame, a paper Snellen wallchart, and a classic ophthalmoscope to examine visual acuity. These examinations are usually done in hospitals and doctor’s surgeries using various instruments which are important for documenting and recording diagnoses in patients’ eyes. “However, this sort of equipment is not suitable for transport to developing countries, so we looked for replacement methods of examination. Examining the anterior segment of the eye is relatively simple using a camera. When examining the fundus, an ordinary Volk 20-diopter lens, and a smartphone with a standard LED flash can do a very good job,” said Comenius University medical student Adriána Furdová.

The smartphone captures images which clearly show a patient’s fundus, displaying the optic nerve, retina colour, output, and course of the blood vessels, without the need for any subsequent modifications. The team was able to examine and give glasses to around 250 people. They focused on hospitalized patients with various diagnoses such as HIV, hypertension, and tuberculosis. Their screening and documentation is important for a better level of management and treatment. Images can be sent to a specialist over the Internet if there is not an ophthalmologist in the given hospital.
 “Through my work, I showed that this is an effective method in the given conditions. And in this way, medicine can make progress,” says Furdová, who received the top prize in the ophthalmological section at an international students’ conference in Warsaw for her research as well as that event’s Grand Prix audience award.