Clinical Ocular Photography – Straight from your iPhone!

Smartphone Photography

The iPhone truly revolutionized the perspective of technology, especially when it comes to taking photos. I personally tend to leave my digital cameras behind most of these days, since my iPhone camera does just as good of a job taking high-quality photos anywhere and anytime with ease.  With immediate access to image editing applications, my smart phone allows me to edit and enhance my images, save them for future reference, or even share to the web instantly without a computer in just a matter of minutes.  As mobile photography undoubtedly advances rapidly, it’s time we take advantage of the convenient ability to take excellent, high-quality clinical photography straight from our smartphones!

iPhone Adapters

Did you know that there are special iPhone adapters that have specifically emerged for our clinical instruments, such as slit lamps and ophthalmoscopes?  These adapters attach onto the instruments’ eyepieces and allow us to easily capture internal and external ocular images quickly and easily during an exam.  There are many similar iPhone gadgets out there, but here I will be discussing two I came across that immediately caught my interest:

1. EyePhotoDoc

The EyePhotoDoc, a slit-lamp adapter for the iPhone, is mainly used for external eye photography, specifically tear film analysis on dry eye patients, blink disorders, and general ocular surface disease. Other photos of general external eye disorders concerning lids and lashes can also be captured. The convenience of the small, slip-on adapter makes it quick and easy to use during exams. The EyePhotoDoc website also provides an excellent tutorial video and a quick start manual for reference.

When it comes to capturing the best image possible, the iPhone automatically detects and sets up the exposure and focus. If any of the settings need to be changed, you can manually tap on the screen to adjust them to obtain the best quality.  There is no need to zoom in and out on your phone – the magnification can be adjusted on the slit-lamp itself. However, its important to keep in mind that higher magnification means shorter depth of field, therefore we need to be conscious about whether we want a larger picture in expense of losing its fine details.

Click here for more detailed information about EyePhotoDoc!

2. iExaminer

Welch Allyn’s adaptor for the PanOptic Ophthalmoscope, called the iExaminer, allows real time video and photos of the fundus. It has been approved for iPhones 4 and 4S, and is still pending approval for iPhone 5, iPod Touch, and the iPad. It’s lightweight, portable, and easy to attach on.  The procedure for the iExaminer is a bit more complicated than the EyePhotoDoc, mainly because it takes more practice to perfectly align the instrument to capture all the meticulous details of the fundus.

Similar to EyePhotoDoc, much of the focusing is also done on the iPhone itself, but the adapter here also includes a focus wheel in order to compensate for any refractive error. In addition, an iExaminer application can be installed on the iPhone for further adjustments, such as adding a self-timer, changing the recording time, and fine-tuning the image resolution. The app also gives an option to add patients data and sync it with patient’s charts, conveniently taking care of extra work.

Click here for more detailed information about the iExaminer!

The Importance of Clinical Photography

Clinical photography is already widely incorporated in several medical fields, specifically in dermatology, dentistry, and even ophthalmology for reasons such as:

  • Patient record keeping
  • References for medical diagnoses
  • Referrals to specialists or colleagues
  • Educational presentations
  • Research publications

As the scope of our profession is progressively expanding, particularly in ocular disease, clinical photography can be extremely valuable to optometry for many of the same reasons above.  Whether you are in clinic in school, in a private practice back in your hometown, or on a mission trip in a 3rd world country, think about how beneficial it can be to obtain valuable clinical information via photos right then and there by simply using just your phone’s camera!  Next time you encounter any unique and interesting case in clinic, see if you can photo-document it using your phone. After all, a picture says a thousand words, and it’s much more efficient to spend more of our time on patients and less of it on charts!

Further references:

  1. Smart Phoneoraphy – How to take slit lamp photographs with an iPhone. In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from
  2. Baum, S. (2013). FDA clears iPhone app for retinal images that could expand telemedicine eye exam. Medcity News. Retreived from



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