New app will open eyes to vision issues in babies

An app that helps student midwives detect rare eye conditions in newborns has been developed by a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

All babies are screened for congenital abnormalities, including eye issues, within 72 hours of birth under the Newborn Infant and Physical Examination program (NIPE). However because eye conditions at birth are rare, it is difficult for midwives to get hands-on experience in this area during their training.

Under current screening methods, potential issues are sometimes incorrectly flagged, leading to anxiety and stress for new parents, and precious clinic time used unnecessarily.

The Eye Screen app, developed by Lindsey Rose, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at ARU in collaboration with Cambridge Digital Health, places several examples of multiple conditions, complete with accurate clinical photographs, at the fingertips of student midwives, ensuring they are more familiar with these conditions.

The app also gives students the opportunity to test their own skills, with results available to download as a PDF for their own records or to share with tutors. Lindsey said:

“While this is not a tool for diagnosis, Eye Screen allows student midwives to become familiar with a variety of eye conditions that they may not come across while on clinical placement.

“There have been situations in the past where babies with a completely normal red reflex that is pale, which is common in babies of BAME parents, have been referred to a clinic, causing additional anxiety and worry for parents at an already stressful time. The app was developed to help student midwives gain exposure to a variety of normal red reflexes from babies of all ethnicities and to recognize abnormalities.

“Increased confidence and competency in midwives will hopefully ensure those who need treatment get it, and reduce the incidence of unnecessary clinic referrals.

“We are confident that the Eye Screen app will become a vital tool for anyone involved in training the midwives of the future, and it is another example of how technology can play its part in improving healthcare.”

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