Doctor uses iPhone 13 Pro camera to take macro images of patient's eyes

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A San Diego area doctor has discovered that the macro mode on Apple's new iPhone 13 Pro models could be useful in the monitoring and treatment of eye conditions.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


In a LinkedIn post on Wednesday, Dr. Tommy Korn, who is an ophthalmologist and digital health innovation specialist at Sharp Healthcare in San Diego, said that he's been using an iPhone 13 Pro Max to take macro images of a patient's eyes.

Korn added that he was "impressed" with the performance of the camera. The eye specialist added that the iPhone 13 Pro Max could "innovate patient eye care & telemedicine," and said he's looking forward to seeing where the technology goes.

Dr. Korn also shared a few images of the iPhone 13 Pro Max in use during the treatment of one of his patients who is healing from a resolving abrasion in a cornea transplant. The iPhone was used to take images monitoring the patient's recovery.

Dr. Korn using an iPhone 13 Pro to snap images of a patient's eyes. Credit: Dr. Tommy Korn
Dr. Korn using an iPhone 13 Pro to snap images of a patient's eyes. Credit: Dr. Tommy Korn


In a comment on Korn's post, optometrist Dr. Jeffrey Lewis also said that the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera could be "yet another way to impress, manage, nurture long-term relationships with our patients."

"PS: this 'Pro camera' includes a telephone app too!" Dr. Korn joked.

Apple's macro photography mode on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max has been called the lineup's "strongest advancement in the camera system." Rather than using an additional lens or other components, the macro mode uses computational photography to achieve its ultra-close-up shots.

This is far from the first time that an Apple product has been used in medical or health applications. Earlier in September, for example, the crew of the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission used the Apple Watch and iPhone to conduct research investigating the impact spaceflight has on the human body.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    Does it make any sense for a doctor to use,  for diagnostic purposes, a camera system designed specifically to alter the resulting images? Clearly, Apple wouldn’t have already trained the macro photos neural net to recognize diagnostic use cases and automatically (and silently) turn off image “enhancement.” (I put that in quotes in this case because any alteration of the original capture is potentially damaging to accurate conclusions.)
    12Strangers
  • Reply 2 of 8
    begborrow said:
    Does it make any sense for a doctor to use,  for diagnostic purposes, a camera system designed specifically to alter the resulting images? 
    That's a fair question/point, but all digital cameras have been altering colour since their invention because every camera sensor has twice as many green detectors as red or blue. This processing is done in order to create the RAW image file. People think RAW files are unprocessed, but they are very much processed to account for the colour changes required.
    radarthekatStrangeDays12StrangersMplsP
  • Reply 3 of 8
    F_Kent_DF_Kent_D Posts: 85unconfirmed, member
    Make sure the flash is off
    12Strangers
  • Reply 4 of 8
    I’d consider it a supplemental tool. Devices have to approved for true medical use, however this could lead to improvements in the medical equipment they use. 
  • Reply 5 of 8
    This ophthalmologist is researching use the iPhone in his practice. With likely a roomful of authorized medical equipment, I’m sure he is at least theoretically capable of assessing the usefulness of the iPhone macro capability.

    May prove useful, may prove not. And, of course, with telemedicine on the rise, giving the patient the ability to monitor their health might be useful — like the afib and spo2 sensors in the Apple Watch. 
    StrangeDayswhatev
  • Reply 6 of 8
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,946member
    begborrow said:
    Does it make any sense for a doctor to use,  for diagnostic purposes, a camera system designed specifically to alter the resulting images? Clearly, Apple wouldn’t have already trained the macro photos neural net to recognize diagnostic use cases and automatically (and silently) turn off image “enhancement.” (I put that in quotes in this case because any alteration of the original capture is potentially damaging to accurate conclusions.)

    I understand the concern and it's an area that I'm sure Apple has to tread very carefully. I can definitely see where Apple would provide a feature to manually disable certain signal processing features but I think Apple would steer extremely far away from actively participating in deciding when and where to make such changes, i.e., "neural net to recognize diagnostic use cases and automatically (and silently) turn off image “enhancement." Doing this automatically would be a liability bomb waiting to explode, especially without Apple submitting their product to the rigorous regulatory approval and qualification processes needed to designate the device as diagnostic medical instrument. If Apple's neural engine doesn't recognize a certain scenario and causes the doctor to arrive at the wrong diagnosis, queue the lawyers and get out the big checkbook.

    This doctor obviously recognizes that the iPhone camera can be used as a useful aid for monitoring and recording patient progress. This is akin to a dermatologist using a web cam and zoom call with a patient to remotely monitor a patient's skin condition. It's simply a visual aid and one that the doctor can employ, not unlike the magnifying lens and high intensity flashlight that my ophthalmologists are always using on my eyes.

    I would think that any tool that is passively involved in aiding a doctor in the performance of their job is a candidate for use. However, once the tool takes an active role in deciding how it performs within a clinical setting without direction from a doctor, that's when the regulations and lawyers need to be pulled into the discussion. For example, if the high intensity light that my eye doctor uses on my eyes were to automatically adjust its intensity or wavelength based on how the tool is positioned in front of my eye, I would think that it would need to meet rigorous requirements. If eye doctors are simply choosing lights that work well for them and they are the only one ones deciding whether the light performs to their satisfaction, the requirements on the providers of the light are reduced to simply meeting the requirements from the doctors who purchase the tool.





    12Strangersnetrox
  • Reply 7 of 8
    begborrow said:
    Does it make any sense for a doctor to use,  for diagnostic purposes, a camera system designed specifically to alter the resulting images? Clearly, Apple wouldn’t have already trained the macro photos neural net to recognize diagnostic use cases and automatically (and silently) turn off image “enhancement.” (I put that in quotes in this case because any alteration of the original capture is potentially damaging to accurate conclusions.)
    You need to reread the short article, because no where does it say he's using it for diagnostic purposes.  The FIRST line reads "... could be useful in the monitoring ..." 
    dewme
  • Reply 8 of 8
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,713member
    This, in its vagueness may be a bit misleading:
    It says it is being used "monitoring and treatment of eye conditions".  But, most "eye conditions" are inside the eye in the retina or lens from things like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, cataracts, etc...   But, at least in this case, it was being used to monitor the cornea which is on the surface of the eye.  But, on the other hand, that's what typically gets damaged in an accident -- so it does have its uses.  And. since this camera has a phone app included, it would work for remote post treatment monitoring of the cornea
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