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TECHNOLOGY REPORT - Scientists Develop Smartphone App for Eye Exams

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Netra is a two dollar clip-on eyepiece that goes on top of a cell phone
Netra is a two dollar clip-on eyepiece that goes on top of a cell phone

This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

More than two hundred eighty million people around the world have vision problems or are blind. The World Health Organization says nine out of ten of them live in developing countries. And eighty percent of the problems can be prevented or cured.

Uncorrected cases of near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism are the leading cause of vision problems. These are called refractive errors. They often go untreated in countries with limited health care systems.

But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new way to identify eye disorders with a smartphone. They call it Netra, which means eye in Sanskrit but stands for Near Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment.

A person downloads software to a phone and attaches a plastic eyepiece over the screen. The user looks into the eyepiece and uses the buttons on the phone to move two lines until they appear as one.

One of the MIT researchers -- Ankit Mohan demonstrates NETRA
One of the MIT researchers -- Ankit Mohan demonstrates NETRA

The person's vision problem is identified by the number of clicks required to line up the images. The results can be sent to an eye doctor to make glasses.

The cost is two dollars and the researchers say the results are as good as a traditional eye exam. The phone app is still being tested and is not yet available.

But last month the researchers from the MIT Media Lab won first prize in the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project. They will receive three hundred thousand dollars over three years to continue their research.

June Sugiyama is director of the Vodaphone Americas Foundation. She says the competition involved nearly one hundred projects that could help solve important problems.

JUNE SUGIYAMA: "These creative methods that people have come up with by using wireless technology will be able to be accessed by millions of people, whereas other technology using electricity and landlines would not have been that accessible."

Second place went to Smart Diaphragm, a wireless system for women with high-risk pregnancies. It warns if there are signs that the baby could be born early unless doctors intervene.

And third place went to a solar-powered wireless system designed for tuberculosis treatment programs in developing countries. CoolComply measures the temperature of medicine and records the amount used. June Sugiyama says the information is sent to local health care workers supervising patient treatment.

JUNE SUGIYAMA: "Especially TB medication needs to be kept in a certain temperature. And as you know in developing countries refrigerators aren't that accessible. So this kind of technology is perfect for that kind of arena."

And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. I'm Steve Ember.

网友的学习评论(9条):
作者:开心果
very good
作者:zhou ping
i hope netra is developed to use as soon as possible. it is a good thing for eye exam. but it is launched into the market about at least three years. waiting for .......
作者:malcolm
消化完毕、
作者:viki
In developing countries refrigerators aren't that accessible?最后几段没听懂
作者:rickfj
Who can translate it into Chinese? Which means eye in Sanskrit but stands for Near Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment. I can't fully understand it.
作者:lvjiaying1984
The reasons why there are so many cases of vision problems in China is that the students in China spend more time every day and more hours every year than their counterparts of America where the cases are rarely seen for an early-aged student. You can see a lot of cases of such vision problems in the high school, junior high school and even elementary school. At an early age when the children should be expected to play, to hang around with others, they undertake too much pressure
作者:lvjiaying1984
under which they are expected to study more using their eyes which haven't matured because of which the children are likely to be involved in the nearsightedness and some other eye problems. And as for how to solve the eye problem, few of the students suffering from this are expected to receive proper treatment from the professional experts who are more capable of helping them determine the right glasses for whom the further development of these kinds of illnesses will not develop. n
作者:lvjiaying1984
And the parents whose kids suffer from eye problems don't pay special attention to what is going on for their kids's eye problems and that is why there are more and more students even in an early age suffer from this kind of illnesses. The vision issue happening in China has make it hard to choose students with the good vision who are expected to undertake some special occupation, such as the pilot. With the number of the vision cases increasing,
作者:lvjiaying1984
people in the future will not be able to fight a war because of the shortage of people who can undertake the war.
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