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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2016

There's an App for That

Free Vision Science Apps to Bridge the Gap from Classroom to Clinic

Catherine V. Johnson
Research and Instruction Librarian
Wilson Library
University of La Verne
La Verne, California

Scott Y. Johnson
Education/Technology Librarian
M.B. Ketchum Memorial Library
Marshall B. Ketchum University
Fullerton, California

For medical students and those who study vision sciences such as optometry, mobile applications can be invaluable tools to bridge the gap between the classroom and clinical setting. The use of devices (smartphones and tablets) is now commonplace, especially among younger users. 86% of U.S. adults from ages 18-29 own a smartphone (Anderson 2015). This age range represents the vast majority of optometry and medical students, making them a target demographic for mobile device use.

There is increasing pressure for academic and research libraries to demonstrate library value and impact, especially in relation to student learning and success (Tenopir 2011). One way librarians can increase their value is by expanding their knowledge of and keeping current with new, non-traditional resources, such as mobile applications, that support the information needs of their users. In the field of vision science, librarians can support the curriculum and enhance student learning by introducing mobile applications to students and faculty.

Vision Science Apps

Mobile apps are portable, cheap, and accessible uses of technology that can benefit those who study and work in the field of vision science. Students can struggle with the transition from didactic learning to clinical application and practice. Being away from a classroom and encountering unpredictable situations can be intimidating for students. Apps can be used as an aid, but not a replacement, to practical clinical experience (Bullock & Webb 2015). Nevertheless, having reference materials on hand in a clinical setting can give students a safety net of information, helping them avoid feeling overwhelmed if they do not immediately know the correct answer to a problem. While mobile apps can be valuable tools for all medical disciplines, vision science students in particular can benefit, due to the vision testing and vision simulator apps. For example, one can use a mobile app to bring up tests for visual acuity, color vision, and vision training. Additionally, using an app to show patients how their environment would look if they were affected by glaucoma, for example, can be more effective than verbally explaining the effects of the disease. This list features selected free apps.

Vision Science Reference

Eye Handbook (iPhone & iPad) & Eye Handbook (Android)
By Cloud Nine Development, LLC
This app includes licensed content from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Different sections of the app include an eye handbook manual, multiple calculators, vision tests, videos, and a list of medications. It is a comprehensive app, covering a wide scope of ophthalmology-related content. The app is regularly updated and has an active discussion forum.
Eyetube (iPhone & iPad)
By Bryn Mawr Communications, LLC
Eyetube contains a database of over 3,000 videos related to ophthalmology. Topics include: cataract surgery, retina, cornea, glaucoma, and laser vision correction. Information on practice management and professional meetings and conventions is also included. The interface is simple and intuitive, and the videos are high quality.
Ophthalmology (Android)
By Dr. Ahmad Apps
This app is a quick reference for ocular disorders and examination. It shows images of various ocular disorders and defines different types of ocular examinations. In addition, this app offers practice ophthalmology quizzes and includes links to YouTube videos of relevant topics.

Vision Testing

Eye Care Plus (Android)
By Healthcare4mobile
Eye Care Plus acts as a training tool for one's eyes. It generates a basic training plan based on the user's scores on several types of eye screening tests within the app. It also tracks the user's progress and allows one to accumulate points to meet goals. It is a fun, bright app that uses vibration, sound, and visuals to give the user an array of training options.
Vision Test (iPhone & iPad)
By Rocktime Ltd
This app tests the user's vision in a variety of ways, including color tests, visual acuity, and astigmatism. While not a substitute for an in-person eye exam with an optometrist, this app can help users decide if they want to go in for an exam, or track their vision in-between exams. The app also offers quizzes and an optometrist finder. While there are many apps that test vision, this is the most popular and highly rated in the iTunes store.

Vision Science Tools

Canopy Medical Translator (iPhone & iPad) & Canopy Medical Translator (Android)
By Canopy Innovations, Inc
Canopy is a medical translator app that shows written phrases and also translates with audio. There are 15 languages to choose from, including Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, and French, along with text-only translations of Vietnamese and Bengali, among others. The phrases are separated into medical categories, including ophthalmology. Canopy includes medical phrases that may be absent from an app like Google Translate. It received funding from the National Institute of Health and is used by organizations such as the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Osteopathic Association.
MediBabble (iPhone & iPad)
By NiteFloat, Inc.
This app contains thousands of translated medical questions and instructions. It currently is available in five languages: Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, and Haitian Creole. Translated terms are available in audio and text formats, and the phrases were written by a panel of physicians. Additionally, all questions are either yes or no questions, or can be answered with a gesture, to minimize misunderstandings.
OCT Browser (iPhone & iPad)
By University of Pittsburgh
OCT stands for Optical Coherence Tomography, which are cross-sectional images of human tissues on a microscopic scale .This technique is used in ophthalmology to obtain detailed images of the retina. The iPad app gives users access to 3D OCT images as soon as patients are scanned, which can be shared with the patient or other doctors.
Vision Simulator for OPTOMETRY JUMPSTART (iPad)
By Eyemaginations, Inc.
This iPad app helps medical professionals explain eight different eye diseases to patients. It is a helpful tool to visualize the effects of eye disease. It shows simulated images when a patient has cataracts, glaucoma, or myopia, among others, and also has the option to draw and annotate the images.

Drug Information

Epocrates Medical References & Tools for Healthcare Providers: Drugs, Dosing, Interactions, Diseases, ICD10 & More (iPhone & iPad) & Epocrates Plus (Android)
By Epocrates
Epocrates has been a digital standby of medical professional for years, since the days of PDAs and as one of the first apps for iOS. The free version of the app includes drug information, such as drug interactions and adverse reactions, pill IDs, and disease notes.
Medscape (iPhone & iPad) Medscape (Android)
By WebMD
The Medscape app offers a large quantity of drug information. It includes a Drug Reference Tool, a Drug Interactions Checker, evidence-based information on diseases and conditions, medical news, and an image library.


Anderson, M. 2015. Technology device ownership: 2015. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science, & Technology. [Internet]. [Accessed 2016 Jan 26]. Available from:

Bullock, A. & Webb, K. 2015. Technology in postgraduate medical education: A dynamic influence on learning? Postgraduate Medical Journal. 91(1081): 646-650.

Tenopir, C. 2011. Beyond usage: Measuring library outcomes and value. Library Management. 33(1/2): 5-13.

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