Nowadays to diagnose an eyeglass prescription typically requires a bulky pair of trial lenses (a phoropter) or a laser device that projects the wave into the eye, then measures its characteristics with no interaction from the patient (a aberrometer) and also a professional health care assistant. A recent research from MIT Media Lab brings up a new perspective on how this diagnose may be handy achieved by using a new prototype software on a smart phone. So imagine holding your cell phone next to your eye, take a short test with simple instructions and then press a button for calculating an accurate prescription for your glasses. They say that the reason the technology works is because the excellent resolution of the cutting edge phones. This allows to create a waveform which is coming out of the display by simply adding a small optical film on top of the phone’s screen. This way, the waveform reaching out of it, can be manipulated to compensate for the aberrations in the eye.
The application shows two lines on the cellphone’s display. It asks users to align them using the phone’s arrow keys while looking through the small plastic device placed atop the screen. The test is repeatedly done for 8 times with the lines in showing up in different places and positions, after which the application yields the user’s prescription. The whole process takes about 2 minutes. The additional plastic fragments are evaluated to only $1 to $2 now, but the developers think that mass production would drive them down to only a few cents each. Furthermore, the old methods like phoropter aren’t reliable because they are based on estimation mostly, compared to the current prototype that converts the diagnose issue into an alignment task.
Compared to the traditional methods, NETRA (that’s how the software is called) is less expensive and more portable. The team plans to commercialize the system and initially target Africa and Asia. Prior to that they will begin field testing it in Boston in the coming months.