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The eyes have it: Transformer Launchpad won by student's new eye-test app

He’s got a keen focus on the benefits of medical education, and now Andrew Kroger has come up with an augmented reality app to help doctors re-learn the lost art of eye examinations.

Mr Kroger and his business partner Kirk Lehman are developing retinAR, an app which uses augmented reality to help the user learn how to correctly operate an ophthalmoscope through examining an eye inside a virtual head.

Mr Kroger, a third-year Medicine student at Bond University, said the idea for retinAR came after he noticed students struggling to correctly use the ophthalmoscope in a clinical setting. Further research indicated the device, which is used to examine the eye, was not being widely used in instances when it should have been.

He said the problem appeared to stem from unfamiliarity with the ophthalmoscope among doctors.

“It seems to be they’re just unfamiliar with the tools, they had one experience in medical school and didn’t have an opportunity to practice any further.

“We’re creating a free app that allows them to practice without bothering their flatmates or their family and accosting their eyes, because if you’re no good then it’s just going to be uncomfortable for the patient.

Mr Kroger said an eye examination was not just good for eye health - it could also help uncover issues in patients with diabetes, head trauma, and hypertension.

“Proficiency in an ophthalmoscopy should be a skill that every doctor has so that they can treat every patient like they would with a blood pressure cuff, with an eye chart, with a reflex hammer, it’s just another tool.

“We want to create an accurate representation of this exam so that it can be sent across the world in a phone – no matter whether that’s a regional medical school in Australia, or in our neighbouring countries, so long as they’ve got a phone, they’ve got access to a world-class ophthalmologist’s education, in their pocket.”

retinAR received a boost when it was named winner of the Transformer Launchpad competition, run by Bond University’s Transformer entrepreneurship program.

Mr Kroger said the $2000 prize money would be used to help pay for purchasing models of the eye and licensing of high-grade retinal images.

Transformer Director Daniel Abrahams, who was one of the Transformer Launchpad judges, said retinAR was an outstanding business proposal.

“This idea has global market potential. Australia alone is a compelling market. It’s an excellent teaching and learning tool, with scope to improve diagnosis of chronic illnesses and diseases.”

Mr Kroger hoped to be able to showcase retinAR at the national ophthalmology congress in Brisbane, next February.

“Medical education has the potential to have such a great impact. For every person you teach well and teach how to perform an eye exam, over a career there’ll be thousands of patients who benefit.”

All Bond University’s faculties were represented at this year’s Transformer Launchpad finals, with all other contestants receiving $1000 to help boost their business idea. The competition was judged by Mr Abrahams, Transformer Founder-in-Residence Stuart Giles and Bond University Engagement manager Sharon Solyma.

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