Track Your Eye Health and Connect with Your Ophthalmologist
Widespread use of mobile devices and iPhone apps offers new ways to track your own eye health and strengthen communications with your ophthalmologist. Though at first glance the use of computers and mobiles may seem to depersonalize patient-doctor communications, a closer look shows these devices can actually increase understanding and options for both partners in your eye health team: you and your ophthalmologist.
A recent study about tablets and low vision found that tablets help people with low vision read more easily, so now more than ever we should be embracing these high tech tools and their apps to track our eye health and help those of us with vision challenges to read easier.
Here are some of the best apps and online tools as described by John Kitchens, MD, EyeSmart's eye health tech expert:
PocketPharmacist ($1.99; iTunes App Store)
PocketPharmacist allows patients to list all the medications they are taking in a virtual "pillbox," which can then check for interactions among medicines. The pillbox list can be sent to the patient's pharmacist or physician. This app helps doctors by making it simpler to identify appropriate eye care medications and doses.
Sightbook (Free; iTunes App Store)
This app allows patients to regularly monitor their visual acuity and send their vision scores to their doctor. This could be useful for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who need to receive treatment based on whether their vision is improving or worsening. The website for app creator Digisight Technologies allows ophthalmologists to communicate with patients, as well as transmit images and treatment histories.
MaculaTester ($1.99; iTunes App Store)
MaculaTester gives the patient a portable Amsler grid, which is useful for testing whether vision is being lost to AMD or other diseases of the macula, the center of the eye's retina. The app enables the patient to draw the area of vision loss on the digital Amsler grid. The patient and ophthalmologist can use the app to compare new results to earlier drawings. And the app can be set to remind the patient to do a daily vision check using the Amsler grid.
PubMed on Tap ($2.99; iTunes App Store)
For patients who want "the latest" on their medical condition, PubMed on Tap is a useful way to search the PubMed research database from their iPhone. However, PubMed can be difficult for patients to navigate. Dr. Kitchens uses this app to find studies relevant to specific patients and then e-mail brief study summaries (abstracts) to them.
EyeHandbook (Free; iTunes App Store, Android Market)
EyeHandbook sets the gold standard for usefulness for ophthalmologists and their patients. In addition to diagnosis and treatment sections, the EyeHandbook has an eye atlas, patient education materials and eye diagrams. The diagrams are very helpful for explaining anatomy to patients, and the patient education materials can be emailed. This is the one "must-have" app for any eye care professional. Patients who want in-depth information may want to explore it with their ophthalmologists or on their own.
Gmail (Free; Google)
Setting up a Gmail account is free and easy for patients and doctors alike. Dr. Kitchens has a Gmail account that is dedicated solely to communicating with his patients.