The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but they also can reveal important diagnostic information for conditions unrelated to eyesight. For example, hyperttension — high blood pressure — can cause bleeding in the back of the eyeball. The traditional examination procedure requires the use of a handheld ophthalmoscope, which can be tricky to use properly and healthcare professionals can sometimes miss important symptoms.

This can be a problem in emergency situations, where physicians have little time to perform an accurate eye exam. One possible solution is a smartphone device that we’ve covered before, the D-EYE retinal imaging system. A new study published in the Journal of Hypertension reveals that this device can produce results as good or better than traditional eye exams in emergency rooms. The study included 41 patients who arrived at a hospital emergency department with acute high blood pressure. The patients all received an eye exam by an emergency physician using a traditional ophthalmoscope and then again using the D-EYE system. The images from the D-EYE were then examined by an emergency physician and an ophthalmologist.

The traditional eye exam took about two minutes on average, while the D-EYE process took just over a minute. The traditional eye exam found no abnormalities among the sample patients, but examination of the D-EYE images resulted in the emergency physician identifying 17 patients with problems, and the ophthalmologist found 19 patients with problems. As a result, the study concludes that the D-EYE system “seems to be superior in respect to traditional fundoscopy.” The fact that it can be performed faster can also make a big difference in an emergency situation, where every minute counts.