From the Urban Dictionary: Machead (mak-hed). n. a slang term for a person who regularly uses and is somewhat obsessed with Apple computers or Macs.
This is a fairly suitable term to describe me, and after reading my last two MillennialEYE columns, this fact becomes glaringly obvious and, admittedly, slightly nauseating. So, in an effort to maintain some journalistic integrity, I have asked my former fellow and current corneal associate at Weill Cornell Medical Center, Priyanka Sood, MD, to write about something I know absolutely nothing about: the Google Android universe. Priyanka is one the few people I know who uses an Android phone, and I’ll admit that on a few occasions, I’ve been jealous of its huge and vibrant screen. But, with the imminent arrival of the next iPhone, it’s only a matter of time before she switches to better technology. Before that inevitably happens, here are her thoughts and observations on the current state of the Android operating system and its apps for ophthalmology.
—Christopher E. Starr, MD
Apple Shmapple! That’s right, I own an Android, and I will shout it from the rooftops! Working in an ophthalmology department where Macheads prevail, I walk around with my head held high if only because my screen is bigger and brighter, which allows me to lift my head a little bit higher. Now, admittedly, I am technologically “unsavvy,” and I probably do not use the full capability of my Droid phone or any other electronic device for that matter. So, why am I writing this column for Tech Culture? Thankfully, even for those of us who are “computer challenged” and proud non-Macheads, there are useful tools out there that do not require a BA in computer science or an overpriced device named after a fruit to utilize. Despite the self-inflicted technological dark age that I exist in (a 3-year-old Motorola phone), I am here to let you know you have options—Android smartphone application options, that is! And these applications can help simplify your daily life in ophthalmology residency and practice. Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith, search for these tools, and know that there are smart people out there developing smart applications to make our lives easier. Oh, did I mention that I have residents and fellows to help keep me up to date on technology?
The Eye Handbook
This application is fantastic! It has a number of tabs that include forums where users can post clinical questions, a link to the American Academy of Ophthalmology website, and a media download tab with e-books and other resources. My favorite tab is the patient tab. Here, you will find tools such as a near-vision card, Amsler grid, color plates, and even a fluorescein light! Who needs an on-call kit anymore? Click on “vision symptoms,” and you can show patients how certain diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and advanced glaucoma can affect their vision. Under the same tab, you will find basic information about some of the most common conditions we treat including definitions, workup, treatment, and follow-up. The physician tab is helpful for information ranging from coding clues and fortified antibiotic dosages to ophthalmic equipment lists and common ocular medications. It seems to be an all-in-one app that I wish I had known about when I was a first-year on call!
After polling the trainees and searching the Google Play store, these are the most common and useful Android ophthalmology apps currently available:
Have you looked at your patient’s medication list recently and thought , I haven’t even heard of that, or I wonder if that med has ocular side effects? Well, ask no more. Turn to the long-trusted Epocrates, which is now easily accessible and free for Android phones.
This application is geared toward medical students and new residents. It could also be useful to emergency department physicians and our internal medicine colleagues. It gives a brief but informative overview of a number of common ocular conditions as well as basic ocular examination techniques. Android users rejoice: this is one of the apps that cannot be found on the iPhone … sorry, Chris!
Focus Ophthalmology Dictionary
This is another basic app that provides animated definitions of common ophthalmic terms and can be useful for patient, medical student , and early resident education. This application is not free, but you can download a trial app and take a test drive. If you like what you see, you can purchase it for $9.99.
The Wills Eye Manual
As mentioned in the last column, new e-books and e-resources are certainly the wave of the future, however, there are still oldies but goodies out there in print that are now becoming available digitally. No, this e-book/app is not free, but yes, it is very useful to have quick, easy, anywhere access to the valuable information in the “Wills Eye Manual” right at your fingertips. You no longer have to worry about pulling out a book in front of your patient, you can simply pull out your phone and act like you’re texting!
I hope I have provided you with some useful tools that are easily accessible to Android users and helpful in your daily practice. New smartphone applications are constantly being developed, and by next year, this list may look very different. Who knows, maybe one of your readers out there is actively working on the next big ophthalmology app. Just please make sure it is available on my Motorola Droid 3 because I cannot promise I will have emerged by then from my comfortable position in the tech dark ages.