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Undermining a common language: smartphone applications for eye emergencies

Authors Charlesworth JM, Davidson MA

Received 5 September 2018

Accepted for publication 26 October 2018

Published 15 January 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 21—40

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/MDER.S186529

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Jennifer M Charlesworth,1,2 Myriam A Davidson2

1School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland; 2AM Charlesworth & Associates Science and Technology Consultants, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Background: Emergency room physicians are frequently called upon to assess eye injuries and vision problems in the absence of specialized ophthalmologic equipment. Technological applications that can be used on mobile devices are only now becoming available.
Objective: To review the literature on the evidence of clinical effectiveness of smartphone applications for visual acuity assessment marketed by two providers (Google Play and iTunes).
Methods: The websites of two mobile technology vendors (iTunes and Google Play) in Canada and Ireland were searched on three separate occasions using the terms “eye”, “ocular”, “ophthalmology”, “optometry”, “vision”, and “visual assessment” to determine what applications were currently available. Four medical databases (Cochrane, Embase, PubMed, Medline) were subsequently searched with the same terms AND mobile OR smart phone for papers in English published in years 2010–2017.
Results: A total of 5,024 Canadian and 2,571 Irish applications were initially identified. After screening, 44 were retained. Twelve relevant articles were identified from the health literature. After screening, only one validation study referred to one of our identified applications, and this one only partially validated the application as being useful for clinical purposes.
Conclusion: Mobile device applications in their current state are not suitable for emergency room ophthalmologic assessment, because systematic validation is lacking.

Keywords: visual assessment, visual acuity and emergency medicine, epidemiology, methodology, ophthalmology, ocular

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