Lee Jones, PhD, and Kishan Devraj
Competition Sponsor: UK Research and Innovation
Glaucoma is among the top three causes of irreversible visual impairment in the UK and Worldwide. The impact of sight loss in glaucoma is complex, affecting aspects of daily functioning, mobility, and quality of life. Glaucoma cannot be cured; treatments are designed to slow or halt disease progression, necessitating lifelong hospital monitoring. There is growing difficulty for the hospital eye services to effectively monitor the glaucoma patient caseload. Indeed, people with glaucoma are losing their sight due to lack of timely monitoring. There is a need for innovative changes in the current glaucoma patient pathway in order to achieve better patient outcomes and higher quality care.
Smartphones are increasingly being used to collect health information. Digital phenotyping refers to using smartphone generated data to build a picture about an individual’s lifestyle and health state. There is scope for this data to be translated into indicators of clinically symptomatic behaviour. For example, these data could aid clinical decision-making as reduced mobility may indicate a decline in visual functioning and progression of glaucoma. Care providers can be alerted by these digital signals and schedule a clinical assessment and intervention, such as treatment augmentation, provision of visual aids, or counselling support.
Combined with routine clinical data, digital phenotyping could emerge as a powerful tool to establish the real-world impact of glaucoma and help to prevent avoidable sight loss. This approach may ultimately facilitate a more sustainable approach to glaucoma care by measuring outcomes which are relevant and meaningful to the patients themselves.