Samsung is repurposing older Galaxy phones as eye care devices

Used Galaxy smartphones are being attached to handheld fundus cameras for use as an eye care device in developing countries.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Samsung's Eyelike

Image: Samsung

Samsung Electronics on Wednesday said it will repurpose old Galaxy smartphones to be part of eye care devices for use in underserved communities around the world.

As part of the company's Galaxy Upcycling program, used smartphones are being attached to handheld fundus cameras, called the Eyelike, which were made using Samsung's own design. Fundus cameras take images of the rear of an eye, and are often used to help assess eye health. 

The Eyelike cameras are being offered to health workers in low-income regions, the South Korean tech giant said.

The camera comes with a lens attachment for fundus diagnosis, while the smartphone will be used to capture images of the patient's eyes.

According to Samsung, the phone uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to make a diagnosis based on the images. It then uses an app that suggests an appropriate treatment method. The device screens for conditions that could lead to blindness, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration, the company said.

The South Korean tech giant added that use of Eyelike, along with the Galaxy device, offers more affordable diagnoses compared to other commercial instruments. Parts of the camera are also made out of recycled materials and have been designed to be easily reused, the company said.

Samsung has been running the eye care program in Vietnam, India, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with the International Agency for the Prevent of Blindness and South Korean hospital Yonsei University Health System.

At least 2.2 billion people around the globe have a form of vision impairment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Close to half of these cases are preventable, but not all of them are treated due to there being a disparity in availability and affordability of eye care services around the world, Samsung said.

Also: How to get a new prescription, new glasses, and see better from home (all for under $100)

"People around the globe face barriers to accessing fundamental health care, and we saw an opportunity to engineer smart, innovative solutions that reuse products to drive more sustainable practices and make a positive impact in our communities," Samsung Mobile vice president of sustainable management Kim Sung-koo said. 

"This program embodies Samsung's belief that technology can enrich people's lives and help us build a more equitable and sustainable future for all."

The South Korean tech giant is also planning to create a smartphone-based portable colposcope that can be used to screen for cervical cancer and improve women's accessibility to healthcare, it added.


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