Washington: Using an iPad-based app, a team of researchers from the US has successfully detected early signs of glaucoma in nearly 200 patients in Nepal.
The results show promise for populations that have limited or no access to traditional eye care and certain ethnic groups that have a high risk of developing the disease, the researchers said.
"Although not perfect, the tablet glaucoma screening method could make a significant difference in remote locations where populations would not otherwise receive screening at all," said lead researcher Chris A. Johnson, director of the Visual Field Reading Center at the University of Iowa in the US.
The research team used the 'Visual Fields Easy' app, which simulated a visual field test on an iPad to screen more than 400 eyes for glaucoma.
Approximately half of the eyes screened were healthy, control eyes and the other half were eyes with glaucoma.
The researchers compared the screening results with those from the traditional industry standard visual field test - Humphrey SITA standard test - and found that the two tests agreed between 51-79 percent of the time.
The best agreement was in patients with moderate and advanced visual field loss, while there was less agreement in patients with mild visual field loss.
The researchers believe that conducting screenings using a tablet can be an effective initial screening tool for high-risk groups, the elderly and people with limited or no access to traditional eye and health care.
In addition, the screenings lasted an average of three minutes and 18 seconds - less than half the average time needed for the Humphrey SITA standard test.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, affecting more than 60.5 million people.
The paper, authored by researchers from the University of Iowa, the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan and the Tilganga Eye Institute in Nepal, was presented at AAO 2014, the 118th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago.