Study conducted in RI reveals anemia can be diagnosed with photo of patient’s inner eyelid

Rhode Island Hospital_474075

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A photo of your inner eyelid may soon be all a doctor needs to determine whether you’re anemic, according to a recent study.

Previous studies have shown that the inside of a person’s lower eyelid appears paler in color if a person is anemic, which is when the body lacks a sufficient amount of red blood cells.

That’s why Dr. Selim Suner, an emergency physician at Rhode Island Hospital, worked with a team of researchers to analyze photos of people’s inner eyelids, all of which were taken with standard smartphone cameras.

“Others have used photos of the creases in the palms, fingernail beds and other parts to devise algorithms to predict anemia,” Suner explained. “Because those areas can be affected more readily by temperature changes or other conditions affecting blood flow, the eyelid gives us a more reliable way to make this prediction.”

The study revealed doctors can accurately screen for anemia by photo alone, but suggested this should only be done in telehealth or remote settings where blood tests are unavailable.

While the skin color of their patients did not effect the results of the study, the image quality did.

Suner hopes to develop a phone app that will allow doctors to screen for the disease, but said it needs to be designed in a way that will allow users to take photos with the image quality necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

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