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You may have heard of the quantified-self movement – a trend as of late enabled by technology that allows you to track the health of your body and mind, such as logging how many steps you take each day, monitoring your heart rate and tracking what you eat and the amount of sleep you got last night.
The healthcare industry is especially receptive to quantified self apps and gadgets. One startup called 23andme provides users with DNA information, so they can be prepared for any health risks based on an individual’s genetic makeup. LUMOback is a waistband that will provide you a posture score, so you’re able to self-correct bad habits and avoid back pain (and prescription drugs!). Along with these growing health concerns come degenerative eye diseases—many which are linked to old age rather than poor habits—and with an aging Baby Boomer generation, a greater portion of our population is expected to struggle with vision loss.
In fact, according to a recent study, 1.75 million U.S. residents have advanced age-related macular degeneration with associated vision loss, and the number is expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020. While not curable, the disease can be treated to reduce the impact on eyesight – if caught early on. What better method to measure progress than a quantified self app?
How It Works
MyVisionTrack, from Vital Art and Science Inc., allows users to check their own vision for degenerative eye diseases. The app will display three circles, one of which has wavy edges. The user will tap the circle that is different from the others.
The process is simple and accessible enough that doctors can rely on patients to complete the exercise on their own.
While using an app on a smartphone to test for retinal disease is indeed novel, the test itself is not entirely new. The Amsler Grid is a widely used method for patients to track their vision. The grid consists of horizontal and vertical straight lines with a small dot in the center. Patients hold the grid at arm’s distance each day, while wearing glasses, and note if any lines are wavy or discolored or if any of the boxes look different.
Similar to MyVisionTrack’s circles, the exercise aims to find the smallest irregularities in a person’s vision. However, the traditional method does require more from the user – tracking their vision and presenting the information to their doctor. Forgetfulness and fibbing are some concerns, of course – as anyone who has been asked to do a repetitive exercise knows only too well. The mobile app takes the monotony out of the task.
No treatment for macular degeneration is found to completely restore vision, but there are supplements that may reduce the chances of progressing to advanced stages of the disease – which is why it’s important to catch the disease early. Other treatments are administered as injections to the eye and have shown to improve vision in some cases.
As with all health and fitness apps, MyVisionTrack is mean to help you keep track of your vision, but should not be used as a diagnostic tool in any way. Even with advanced technology, you should still schedule regular visits to your Optometrist.