According to a new study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE by Selim Suner and colleagues at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital, an image of a person’s inner eyelid taken with a standard smartphone camera can be used to detect anemia .
Anemia, a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood, affects approximately 5.6% of Americans and more than 25% of the world’s population.
The secret of the palbebral conjunctiva
A person’s lower eyelid, called the palpebral conjunctiva , appears paler when anemic. In the new study, the researchers obtained smartphone images of the palpebral conjunctiva of 142 patients with a wide range of hemoglobin levels.
They zoomed in on a small region of the conjunctiva in each photo and developed a new algorithm that optimizes color resolution, as well as a prediction model that links the color of the conjunctiva, compared to the surrounding skin and the whites of the eyes. , with hemoglobin levels. The team then tested the new algorithms on photos collected from 202 new patients .
When analyzing the new set of photographs, the model was 72.6% accurate, 72.8% sensitive, and 72.5% specific in predicting anemia. The precision for the transfusion thresholds was higher, with 94.4% precision for a low transfusion threshold and 86% precision for a higher threshold. Skin tone did not change the results, but image quality had some effect . The results suggest that a smartphone app could be used to detect anemia in a remote or telehealth setting where the infrastructure for blood tests is not available.