Samsung is repurposing older smartphones to enable greater access to ophthalmic health care in underserved communities around the world. Samsung partnered with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Yonsei University Health System (YUHS) in Korea to create medical devices that screen for eye disease by upcycling Galaxy smartphones that are no longer of use. This Galaxy Upcycling program is helping to address approximately 1 billion global cases of vision impairment that are preventable with the proper diagnosis.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 2.2 billion people have a form of vision impairment and almost half of these cases were preventable or have yet to be addressed. There is a large disparity in the prevalence of vision impairment depending on the affordability and availability of eye care services. This is estimated to be four times more common in low- and middle-income regions as compared to high-income regions.
In 2017, Samsung created the Galaxy Upcycling program to introduce innovative ways that Galaxy devices can make a positive impact. Through the program, an older Galaxy smartphone can become the brain of the EYELIKE handheld fundus camera, which connects to a lens attachment for enhanced fundus diagnosis, while the smartphone is used to capture images. The Galaxy device then utilizes an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze and diagnose the images for ophthalmic diseases and connects to an app that accurately captures patient data and suggests a treatment regimen at a fraction of the cost of commercial instruments. The unique and affordable diagnosis camera can screen patients for conditions that may lead to blindness, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
Since 2018, Samsung has partnered with IAPB and Yonsei University Health System to benefit the lives and vision of more than 19,000 residents in Vietnam with its portable retinal camera. In 2019 alone, it supplied 90 portable ophthalmoscopes to health professionals operating in remote regions of the country without access to walk-in clinics. Now, Samsung has expanded the program to India, Morocco and Papua New Guinea. Samsung is also broadening its capabilities to new screening areas, including using upcycled Galaxy devices to create smartphone-based portable colposcopes to screen for cervical cancer and improve women’s access to quality health care.