Can iExaminer help detect and monitor glaucoma?

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Yalin Zheng
  • Institute: University of Liverpool
  • Region: North West
  • Start date: March 2015
  • End Date: July 2016
  • Priority: Early detection
  • Eye Category: Glaucoma


Glaucoma is a leading cause of sight loss in the UK. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are vital because the damage glaucoma does to the optic nerve (the cable that sends visual signals from eye to brain) cannot be reversed.

Imaging the retina (the light-sensitive part of the eye) is important for detecting and monitoring glaucoma. But at the moment imaging uses expensive technology that needs a trained operator and the patient must have dilated pupils before the image is taken.

So the team wants to find a cheaper and easier way to image the retina. They have bought a system called iExaminer, that’s on sale commercially. It combines an ophthalmoscope (used to get a magnified view of the retina) with an iPhone to capture video and still images of the retina without needing to dilate the pupil.

In this project they are comparing images taken with iExaminer to images taken using standard equipment after pupil dilation. A team of trained graders is assessing the images from 100 people with glaucoma. The researchers are also adapting their existing computer analysis software with the aim of making the process automatic.

Results from the project will tell us whether iExaminer images are useful enough in the clinic. If so, using the device could help prevent sight loss from glaucoma.

  • Research update

    Researchers have completed the recruitment target of 103 patients. They have completed gradings of the obtained images according to the protocol developed. Researchers have also developed and optimised computer programs for automated assessment of image quality. The preliminary data suggest that images of the optic disc can be obtained with both of the devices being tested, in both dilated and undilated eyes. However, the field of view from undilated eyes is restrictive.