A new Kenyan study suggests parents are more likely to bring their child to an eye care specialist if their child receives a referral from the eye-screening app Peek versus a written hospital note.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Topical Medicine worked with 50 schools in Kenya’s Trans Nzoia County over the course of this study. Members of Kenya’s Ministry of Health also collaborated in this research.
About 20,000 Kenyan students were split into two groups. The first group received a standard eye exam with paper charts and the second used the Peek vision screening system.
Teachers in the paper cart group gave students with below average visual acuity scores a written referral to take home. By contrast, students who failed the Peek vision screening (which took place using a smartphone app) were given a printed piece of paper with referral information and an image simulating the child’s visual impairment.
After performing these tests, study authors analyzed how many parents with children who failed the visual tests sent them to a specialist. Amazingly, a little over 50 percent of the parents who received a referral from the Peek app sent their children to an optometrist. Only 22 percent of parents who got a written referral brought their children for a follow-up.
While these results look promising, critics point out that many students who failed the Peek app’s test didn’t actually have refractive issues. Interestingly, many of the children who failed Peek’s study only suffered from allergies.
To help better determine whether child taking a Peek test has a real eyesight problem, study authors suggested adding a few tests to the study. Researchers also recommended only sending a child home with a referral if they performed poorly on two out of three trials.
In response to these findings, Peek’s CEO Dr. Andrew Bastawrous said the company will continue to work on perfecting the system’s screening process. Dr. Bastawrous said he is now perfecting a triage system that he hopes to test in Botswana.
Besides working in Botswana and Kenya, Peek is researching its app screening technology in the following countries: Zimbabwe, Indonesia, India, Rwanda, and Pakistan. The Peek Vision Foundation is headquartered at 1 Fore Street in London. Anyone can find out more information about Peek’s efforts at https://www.peekvision.org/.