Add-ons let iPhones perform anterior and retinal eye exams

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The visoClip and visoScope (pictured) are compatible with every Apple smartphone since the iPhone 5

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Visual impairment and blindness is an extremely widespread issue that affects an estimated 285 million people across the globe, with nine of out of 10 cases occurring in developing regions. oDocs Eye Care is hoping to put a dent in those numbers, producing low-cost, portable eye examination accessories designed to harness the power of the iPhone.

The first of two accessories is a small clip that grips the top of the smartphone, resting snugly over the rear camera lens. Known as the visoClip, it's designed to turn the user's iPhone into an anterior segment microscope, used to capture high-resolution views of the front third of the eye.

It's durable and waterproof, providing 10x magnification, and featuring a 15 mm (0.6 in)-wide light beam that comes with white and cobalt blue optical filters. The latter allows doctors to use stains in the eye to more clearly pick out issues.

The second accessory, known as the visoScope, is designed to add retinal imaging capabilities to the iPhone. It makes use of anti-reflective crown lens and provides a 50° field of view. Known as a fundus camera, it fits over the lens and flash of the smartphone, attaching via a thumbscrew on the front of the phone.

The visoScope is available in three different builds at three different price points, giving users a choice of nylon SLS, polyurethane and acetal resin finishes. According to the company, the performance of the imaging device is similar to that of a conventional fundus camera.

If the idea of augmenting smartphones to create eye examination kits sounds familiar, it's probably because we've seen the concept before. Stanford University researchers came up with a similar prototype device back in 2014, and other devices like the Peek eye testing system had the same idea of using smartphone cameras for eye care.

As to the oDocs add-ons, both accessories are compatible with every smartphone Apple has released since the iPhone 5, including larger devices devices like the iPhone 6s Plus, and all the way up to the iPhone SE.

The accessories are available for pre-order right now, with the visoClip priced at US$149, and the visoScope starting at $249 for the Nylon SLS variant. The Polyurethane version is priced at $325, while the more premium acetal add-on comes in at $495. Orders are expected to ship by November this year.

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