01 Nov 2023
CERA and WHO Collaborate to Launch WHOEyes App
The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), has unveiled a groundbreaking mobile application aimed at expanding access to vision tests and mitigating preventable vision loss on a global scale.
Dubbed "WHOEyes," this innovative app empowers individuals with smartphones to conveniently assess their vision health and gain valuable insights into safeguarding their eyes. While not a substitute for regular eye examinations, WHOEyes serves as a valuable early warning system, enabling users to identify potential vision issues promptly and seek professional care.
The app was officially introduced to the world on World Sight Day by WHO's Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who emphasized the global significance of this initiative. "Globally, more than one billion people suffer from vision impairments that could be readily addressed through surgical interventions or the provision of eyeglasses," stated Dr. Tedros. "Regular check-ups are instrumental in detecting eye diseases at an early stage and preventing vision loss."
WHOEyes is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to anyone, making it particularly valuable in regions where healthcare resources are limited. Dr. Lisa Zhuoting Zhu, Principal Investigator in Ophthalmic Epidemiology, highlights the app's potential to assist educators in remote schools in identifying vision problems that may hinder a child's education. "If signs of vision impairment are observed among children, they can be referred to an eye specialist for further evaluation, to address issues like refractive errors, lazy eye, or severe cases of myopia or hyperopia."
Dr. Zhu notes that the WHOEyes app can also be a crucial resource for older individuals and those residing in remote and rural areas, where access to eye specialists may be scarce. "Allowing people to assess their visual acuity at home means they won't have to undertake unnecessary travels."
Refractive errors are just one of many factors contributing to vision loss, and Dr. Zhu believes that WHOEyes can serve as an effective triage tool for identifying eye diseases. "Frequently, when individuals finally visit an eye specialist, they may already be in the advanced stages of eye diseases. By conducting annual or bi-annual vision tests, smaller changes in vision can be detected, and issues can be identified at an earlier stage."
WHOEyes promises to be a pivotal development in the field of global eye health, enhancing accessibility to vision testing and paving the way for early intervention to prevent avoidable vision loss. As this app continues to gain traction, it has the potential to transform the landscape of eye care in regions with limited healthcare resources and provide valuable insights into maintaining good vision.
WHOeyes is suitable for anyone aged over eight years and can be downloaded for Android via Google Play and iPhone via the App Store.