mHealth App Effective in Augmenting Leukocoria Screenings

Samara Rosenfeld
OCTOBER 04, 2019
leukocoria
Photo/Thumb have been modified. Courtesy of Fortis International Care via Quora.

A mobile health (mHealth) app proved to be an effective tool to augment clinical leukocoria screenings, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.

The app, called CRADLE (ComputeR Assisted Detector LEukocoria), surpassed an 80% sensitivity for children two years old or younger. A sensitivity of at least 80% is considered the “gold standard” by ophthalmologists.  

"The app can help parents spot the signs of common and rare eye disorders early," Bryan Shaw, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Baylor, said in a statement to Inside Digital Health™.  "Parents can then relay the information to their child’s doctor who can perform a thorough eye exam or refer them to an ophthalmologist."

The app, developed by researchers at Baylor University, searches through family photographs for signs of leukocoria, one of which is an abnormal white reflection form the retina of the eye.

Researchers at Baylor determined the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of the prototype app by analyzing nearly 53,000 photographs taken of children before their diagnosis.

Of the children diagnosed with an eye disorder, CRADLE detected leukocoria for 80% of them. The app also detected leukocoria in pictures taken an average of 1.3 years before a child’s official diagnosis.

The team found the app to be more effective than ophthalmologist s because of the breadth and frequency of its sample sizes of everyday family photos.

The ability for the app to detect even slight instances of the condition has improved due to the mHealth app’s algorithm becoming more sophisticated, the researchers reported.

“So far parents, and some doctors, have used it to detect cataract, myelin retinal nerve fiber layer, refractive error, Coats’ disease and of course retinoblastoma,” Shaw said

The researchers are retraining the algorithm with undergraduates tagging and sorting an additional 100,000 photos. The research team also hopes to add features to cut down on false positive detections.

Additional community-based studies should be considered where late referral for retinoblastoma is a cause for substantial or preventable morbidity and mortality, the researchers said.

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