Home Vision Tests Move Closer

A project led by NHS Forth Valley Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr Iain Livingstone, could lead to the prospect of people in Forth Valley being able to have their eyes tested at home.

Thanks to NHS Innovation funding and support, two companies from an initial selection of four have now been selected to carry out further research on the best ways for health professionals to carry out testing and remotely check results.

If successful, it’s believed it could considerably reduce waiting lists, ease pressure on clinic space, limit hospital contacts during the pandemic and bring the potential for asynchronous home tests by parents and carers.

According to Dr Livingstone: “This is an opportunity for patients, carers and parents to be involved in the development of a new at-home vision test, so the end result works for everyone. “Amblyopia (“lazy eye”) clinics represent “routine business”, and cancellation during the pandemic has inevitably resulted in delays in monitoring and intervention such as spectacle correction and patching.

NHS Forth Valley, in collaboration with NHS Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital is now entering Phase II of a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) evaluating digital tools for remote visual testing.

“In pre COVID times NHS FV see approximately 104 new paediatric patients and 809 paediatric return patients per month. Current capacity is reduced by approximately one third and success in home testing could transform vision testing and ensure eye problems are detected easier and faster in order to prevent sight loss.”

Results from our pilot studies have shown promising results, indicating that remote live testing gives us results we can trust. With ubiquitous high resolution screens in almost all homes, it becomes possible to bring the clinic to the home.

The home testing research is part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by NHS Scotland. Successful applicants receive 100 per cent funding and have access to advice from NHS Forth Valley, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Fife and NHS Highland.

The two companies selected to go forward from the initial four have been awarded up to £40,000 each and will develop a prototype and undertake testing for up to nine months in the NHS TestBed. They will be expected to develop their solution commercially.