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Learning Enhancement and Development

Session 1H - Paper 2

Evaluation of the D-Eye smartphone ophthalmoscope by undergraduate Optometry students

Dr Manbir Nagra - School of Health Sciences, City, University of London
Dr Byki Huntjens - School of Health Sciences, City, University of London

We evaluated student opinions of a new smartphone based device and app, which may have the potential to replace or supplement a more traditional instrument regularly used by optometrists and optometry students.

The session will comprise a ~10 min talk about the evaluation of the smartphone ophthalmoscope with a detailed breakdown of student responses. As part of the session we will attempt to demonstrate use of the device and allow the audience to view the image via the projector The discussion will focus on peer-to-peer learning and use of technology in teaching.

Background/Purpose: Direct ophthalmoscopy is taught across all UK undergraduate optometry courses. The instrument allows examination of internal ocular tissues and forms an essential part of the eye examination. It can take several years to become proficient at direct ophthalmoscopy; the instrument’s single eyepiece only allows one individual to view the image at a time, which is disadvantageous during teaching. The introduction of smartphone ophthalmoscopes enables groups of teachers and students to view images together, and encourages peer-to-peer learning. In addition, the technology is significantly cheaper than the direct ophthalmoscope.  
The purpose of this study is to understand student opinions of a new commercially available smartphone device for fundus examination, and to compare usability to the traditional ophthalmoscope, from both the perspectives of a practitioner and a patient.

Methods: Fifty-four undergraduate Optometry students with prior experience of the traditional direct ophthalmoscope were recruited for the study. Participants were asked to examine at least one eye with the D-eye smartphone ophthalmoscope and given an opportunity to sit as a participant themselves. Minimal instructions were provided and all examinations were conducted through undilated pupils.  Participants completed an opinion survey to feedback on aspects such as the ease of handling, working distance, and overall preference in comparison to traditional ophthalmoscopy. 

Results: Compared to the direct ophthalmoscope, 92% of students preferred the (longer) working distance of the D-eye; 77% felt it was easier to handle; and 92% preferred the patient experience with the D-eye.  Despite the positive feedback, only 43% of students preferred the D-eye when assuming the role of the practitioner. Free text responses indicated that students felt the D-eye was useful as a teaching tool.

Conclusion: Student opinions indicated that smartphone ophthalmoscopes are beneficial to Optometry undergraduates as an accompaniment or precursor to teaching the traditional direct ophthalmoscope technique.