Iron deficiency or anaemia is a common nutrient deficiency that affects millions of people across the globe. It is more prominent among women belonging to the menstruating group. In India alone, about 68.4 per cent of children and 66.4 per cent of women suffered from anaemia in 2019. Caused due to deficiency of iron, if left untreated anaemia can lead to several health concerns, including complications in pregnancy.
Causes and symptoms
Anaemia is caused due to several reasons like malnutrition, parasitic infections, or underlying diseases. In this condition, the body does not produce enough haemoglobin due to a lack of iron. Haemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red colour and helps to carry oxygenated blood from the heart to different parts of the body. Its symptoms may include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, sensitivity to cold and shortness of breath. Based on the symptoms, doctors usually refer patients to undergo a blood test. Now scientists have found another way to diagnose the symptoms of anaemia with the help of a smartphone.
How to detect anaemia through a smartphone
A recent study published in a journal named PLOS ONE revealed a new technique to diagnose the symptoms of anaemia that too by simply using a smartphone. The scientist suggested that taking a picture of the person’s lower eyelid can predict anaemia with 72 per cent accuracy. The researcher suggests that this new technique can easily diagnose anaemia and is inexpensive than any traditional means. The test result is speedy and people can easily take medicines based on the finding.
The researcher concluded after conducting a two-phase study to assess the possibility of using a smartphone to detect anaemia. In the first phase, they took the image of the lower eyelids of 142 patients in an emergency department with the help of a smartphone. This part of the eye was selected because of the following reasons:
It can be easily photographed
The colour difference is easily visible
The surface and blood vessels are very small
The blood flow of this area is not affected by any factor
Lower eyelid paleness is one of the symptoms of anaemia
The researcher prepared an algorithm after thoroughly examining the pictures. The prepared algorithm maximised colour resolution and a predictive model that helped to identify the skin and whites of the eyes to haemoglobin levels.
In the second phase, they tested the algorithm of the smartphone image in the emergency department and found that the findings were 72.6 per cent accurate in diagnosing anaemia. Not only this, its accuracy to predict the case of severe anaemia which require a blood transfusion was up to 86 per cent and 94.4 per cent.
Diagnosing anaemia using this technique is quite easy and provides instant results. Whether the images are taken with the flash on or off. In both cases, the results were the same. The only thing that may have an impact on the result is the quality of the picture or the constant movement of the eyelid while clicking the picture.