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New Mobile App Provides a Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Anemia and Blood Disorders

Jun 6, 2020 by Iris Dawn Tabangcora

Blood cell count is one of the most requested laboratory tests among patients. Looking at different levels of blood components provide clues and/or etiologies to the underlying medical conditions of the patients. Particularly, it can diagnose anemia and several blood disorders. In trauma, this can determine the need for blood transfusion. Despite it being a simple procedure, some patients require serial monitoring, several pricks, and frequent hospital trips.

Researchers have now developed a way to assess blood hemoglobin levels using smarthphone images of eyelids. The recent pandemic has highlighted the need for expanded telemedicine services to facilitate detecting anemia, acute kidney injury and hemorrhages, and sickle cell anemia.

This app delivers the bloodless blood test

The study utilized software to transform the phone camera into a hyperspectral imager able to measure hemoglobin levels. No modifications of hardware or any use of accessories were done. This analysis technique was used because of its light absorption spectrum which is within the visible range of wavelength. The software converts photos into high-resolution digital spectral signals. In comparison to tests done in a clinical laboratory, there was a 5-10% error with the smartphone. 

The inner eyelids were used because of their microvasculature, easy accessibility, and uniform redness. This body part is also not affected by skin color which eliminates the need for calibration. To perform the test, the patient pulls down the inner eyelid and a trained healthcare professional takes the picture using a smartphone. The algorithm then quantifies the hemoglobin content. The mobile app has several features to stabilize the procedure and to maintain consistent images.

Further studies are being conducted and the team further solidifies the concept. If finalized, this can benefit a huge group of patients including those with cancer and kidney diseases, among others.
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