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How Smartphone Cameras May Be Used To Detect Anemia?

If recent research reports are to be believed, smartphones can now detect anemia. Scientists and researchers have created a program, that can predict anemia with at least 70% accuracy. A smartphone app is the tool of the future. It can now be used to scan the inner eyelid, for blood hemoglobin concentration.

Detection in many cases is next to impossible due to remote locations. Therefore, the government has a hard time collecting data samples from such places. However, things are all set to get easy. 

How Smartphone Cameras May Be Used To Detect Anemia?

Anemia has a far-reaching effect that can jeopardize health and make it irreversible at a certain point in time. More than 5% in the States and 25% globally are a victim of anemia. The symptoms are fatigue, breathlessness, and difficulty in focusing. These are the most common ones, that denote hemoglobin shortage in blood.

How Smartphone Cameras May Be Used To Detect Anemia?
Smartphone Cameras May Be Used To Detect Anemia

Severe Anemia – The Cause Of Many Underlying Diseases

The disease occurs due to a range of reasons. It results from malnutrition and parasitic infections. Older adults and children are vulnerable a lot. Moreover, it is the marker for more diseases today. The open-access journal PLOS ONE has published an article, regarding the smartphone apps capability to detect anemia. It is said to detect anemia from the lower inner eyelid. 

Normally, a healthcare professional or any pathological laboratory detects anemia through blood tests. It is one of the best ways to detect the disease. However, under certain circumstances, the rural population misses out on the facilities. Thus, the provision of apps for healthcare professionals brings out new ways to ease the situation.

The smartphone app paves the way for an inexpensive medium to measure the degree of damage. Moreover, it is non-invasive and easy.

Smartphone Cameras – The Detectors

Researchers have conducted a study in two phases very recently. The first phase had researchers taking photographs of the inner eyelid with a smartphone. The data sample population involved around 140 members. 

The inner eyelid or the palpebral conjunctiva was selected for the purpose. There are certain qualities, that make it perfect for research purposes. They are:

  • It is easily accessible for photography. 
  • There are no contrasting colors between blood vessels and the conjunctiva. 
  • The distance between the blood vessels and the surface is less. 
  • The area remains unaffected by temperature and other environmental triggers

The study involves zooming in the smartphone camera on the said area. Researchers develop a model based on the color of the skin, eyelids, and the white part of the eye, to detect hemoglobin levels. 

In the second phase, tests were conducted on algorithms obtained from around 200 samples. The model and algorithm succeeded to about 70% in the laboratory settings. It was capable of predicting severe anemia as well. For the initiated severe anemia requires a blood transfusion.

Anemia is totally treatable if diagnosed on time. Moreover, the medicine related to this disorder comes in the form of iron supplements. It is easily available and inexpensive. However, diagnosis is the main part.

Moreover, it was seen that flash photography is not required to perform the task. The camera sensor provides raw images without any processing and compression. It is just ideal in the detection of the blood disorder.

Some of the limitations of the study are low light conditions and bad image quality. It can be attributed to the fact that the incumbent might have closed the eyelid suddenly.

The future of medical apps is indeed very bright. More than 40% of the world’s population uses smartphones. Although, people from the lower stratum of society do not own good-quality smartphones. It is a situation that can be solved through government intervention.

Moreover, mobile camps equipped with technology can get the pictures clicked of the neglected population. So, this seems like a viable option.

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