One of the major causes of blindness in remote areas is lack of access to healthcare. Now, a new smartphone app will soon change that.

Developed by British ophthalmologists, the Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) app is likely to change the lives of people living with poor eye sight but without access to care in remote areas.

Peek uses a smartphone camera equipped with a 3D printed adaptor and an acuity app to conduct eye examinations.

The clinical trials, conducted on 233 people in Kenya by a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, proved the app was just as effective as traditional eye charts used by optometrists, BBC reported.

“The main reason for most people not getting eye treatment is simply that they don’t access the services and that’s usually because the services are so far away from them or are unaffordable,” project leader Andrew Bastawrous was quoted as saying by BBC.

“If we can detect people with blindness beforehand, we have a much greater chance of increasing awareness and ensuring an appropriate treatment,” he added.

Instead of a static chart with letters that go from large to fine print, the acuity app displays a shrinking letter on a smartphone screen.

Peek also utilises the camera flash and auto-focus function to allow ophthalmologists or trained care workers to examine the retina.

“The high image quality means you can view cataracts clearly enough for treatment classification, detect signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and signs of nerve disease,” the developers wrote on the Peek Vision website.

Iain Livingstone, an ophthalmologist and senior fellow at the Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic Research, was the acuity lead on the project and one of the founding partners of Peek Vision.

Also, healthcare workers deployed in remote areas can be easily trained to use Peek.

If the technology can be harnessed effectively, it means a smartphone costing a few hundred dollars, replaces tools and equipment worth thousands of dollars.