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Comparison of smartphone ophthalmoscopy vs conventional direct ophthalmoscopy as a teaching tool for medical students: the COSMOS study

Authors Kim Y, Chao DL

Received 15 October 2018

Accepted for publication 17 December 2018

Published 18 February 2019 Volume 2019:13 Pages 391—401


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Yeji Kim, Daniel L Chao

Department of Ophthalmology, Shiley Eye Institute, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

Purpose: To investigate the utility of smartphone ophthalmology for medical students for learning fundoscopy compared with direct ophthalmoscopy.
Methods: After 1 hour of didactic instruction on ophthalmoscopy, second-year medical students in a small group setting were randomized to start training with the direct ophthalmoscope vs smartphone ophthalmoscope and crossed over to the other instrument through the session.
Main outcome measures: Ability to visualize the optic nerve and retinal blood vessels in an undilated pupil as well as a survey evaluating ease of use, confidence, and ability to visualize the optic nerve with the two instruments.
Results: One hundred and one medical students participated. Significantly more medical students were able to visualize the optic nerve with the smartphone ophthalmoscope vs the direct ophthalmoscope in an undilated pupil (82.3% vs 48.5%, P<0.0001). Students reported a more positive experience with the smartphone ophthalmoscope, specifically regarding ease of use (median of 4 vs 3; P<0.0001), their confidence in performing ophthalmoscopy (median of 4 vs 3; P<0.0001), and their ability to visualize features of the optic nerve (median 4 vs 3; P<0.0001). A significant number of participants preferred the smartphone ophthalmoscope over the traditional direct ophthalmoscope for learning how to identify the optic disc and for evaluating patients (78.2% and 77.2%, respectively; P<0.0001).
Conclusion: Smartphone ophthalmoscopy may serve as a useful adjunctive tool to teach direct ophthalmoscopy as well as being an alternative for examining the fundus for noneye care physicians.

Keywords: smartphone ophthalmoscopy, direct ophthalmoscopy, medical student education

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