MIT Media Lab colorbar
MIT Media Lab

PROJECT ABSTRACT MIT Media Lab researchers have created a quick, simple, and inexpensive way to use mobile phones to measure refractive errors of the eye, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and age-related vision loss. Until now, these measurements have only been possible using specialized equipment operated by a trained professional.

This new system, called NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment), is a project of the Media Lab's Camera Culture research group. A small plastic device—which currently can be produced for less than US$2—is easily clipped onto a mobile phone screen. To use it, simply hold the device up to the eye, look into it, and use the phone’s keypad until two patterns overlap. This is repeated several times per eye, with the patterns at different angles. The whole process takes about two minutes, during which time software loaded onto the phone computes and provides the data needed to create a prescription.

The small size and low cost of the device make it especially well-suited for use in the developing world. As many as two billion people worldwide have refractive errors of the eye, and according to the World Health Organization, these errors, left uncorrected, are the world's second-highest cause of blindness.

RESEARCH TEAM Camera Culture Research Group:
READ "Simple, low-cost device that affixes to a cellphone could provide quick eye tests throughout the developing world."
David Chandler, MIT News Office | June 22, 2010
WATCH tv icon NETRA Overview | Video credit: MIT Media Lab

PHOTOS netra netra netra
netra netra netra netra

Images 1-7: Photo Credit, Andy Ryan | Download high-res image archive (7 files).

netra netra netra netra

Images 8-11: Photo Credit, MIT Media Lab, Camera Culture Group | Click each image to download high-res version.

PHOTO CAPTIONS Image 1: NETRA, an add-on for mobile phones, enables users to quickly and inexpensively test their eyesight.

Image 2: Postdoctoral Associate Ankit Mohan demonstrates NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment). The user places the device up to the eye, and using phone's keypad, aligns patterns in the viewfinder. These alignments provide the data needed to determine a prescription.

Images 3-7: NETRA is an add-on for self-testing eyesight quickly, easily, and accurately with a mobile phone. It is lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to attach.

Image 8: Vitor Pamplona demonstrates NETRA.

Image 9: Results are obtained quickly and are displayed on the mobile phone screen.

Image 10: Manuel Menezes de Oliveira Neto (left) and Vitor Pamplona.

Image 10: (L-R) Ankit Mohan, Manuel Menezes de Oliveira Neto, Vitor Pamplona, Ramesh Raskar


Image Credit: Tiago Allen | Download | Click image to enlarge.

NETRA combines inexpensive optical elements with interactive software components to create a new,
portable, and low-cost optometry system.

Alexandra Kahn, Senior Press Liaison, MIT Media Lab
akahn **at** or 617 253-0365

MIT Media Lab       MIT