Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on an inexpensive way to use smartphones to quickly detect early-stage cataracts, the clouding of the eye lens that is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Developed by Media Lab Camera Culture group director Ramesh Raskar and colleagues, the Catra system is made of off-the-shelf components. Users peer through an eyepiece that slides onto a smartphone or other smart device like an iPod Touch, and they view lines displayed on the screen.
When the lines appear cloudy, the user presses a button. In that way, the device scans the lens of the eye to create a map of the cloudy areas, which are produced by proteins clumping together.
Identifying the position, size, shape, and density of the clouds, Catra can produce a diagnosis of cataracts in minutes.