• Special insight

    Special insight

    Approximately 21 000 school children in Kenya’s Trans-Nzoia county have been screened for visual impairment, with the help of a smartphone app.

    Developed in collaboration with Kenyan doctors by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the portable eye examination kit – or PEEK – effectively ‘looks’ inside the eye and tests visual acuity, colour and lens vision, and conducts retinal imaging. Should a screening detect any impairment, the vision difference will be displayed on the phone’s screen, while the child’s parents and head teacher will be sent a text message requesting that they present the child for treatment.

    According to a Business Daily report, five in every 1 000 of the region’s population are blind – highlighting the importance of detecting impairments at childhood stage in order to avoid complete loss of vision as an adult. As PEEK co-founder Dr Hillary Rono explains, ‘of the 2.5 million people in Trans-Nzoia, 80% have eye problems that, if not checked, would lead to avoidable blindness’.

    Of the children already screened, some 900 were found to be visually impaired and subsequently referred for treatment. The app will initially be used to screen 350 000 children in the county over the course of the next three years.  

    8 March 2016
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images