Safety of iPhone retinal photography

J Med Eng Technol. 2017 Apr;41(3):165-169. doi: 10.1080/03091902.2016.1264491. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Background: With the advancement in mobile technology, smartphone retinal photography is becoming a popular practice. However, there is limited information about the safety of the latest smartphones used for retinal photography.

Aims: This study aims to determine the photobiological risk of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus when used in conjunction with a 20Diopter condensing lens for retinal photography.

Method: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus (Apple, Cupertino, CA) were used in this study. The geometrical setup of the study was similar to the indirect ophthalmoscopy technique. The phone was set up at one end of the bench with its flash turned on at maximal brightness; a 20 Dioptre lens was placed 15 cm away from the phone. The light that passes through the lens was measured with a spectroradiometer and an illuminance probe at the other end to determine the spectral profile, spatial irradiance, radiant power emitted by the phone's flash. Trigonometric and lens formula were applied to determine the field of view and retinal surface in order to determine the weighted retinal irradiance and weighted retinal radiant exposure.

Result: Taking ocular transmission and the distribution of the beam's spatial irradiance into account, the weighted retinal irradiance is 1.40 mW/cm2 and the weighted retinal radiant exposure is 56.25 mJ/cm2. The peak weighted foveal irradiance is 1.61 mW/cm2.

Conclusion: Our study concluded that the photobiological risk posed by iPhone 6 indirect ophthalmoscopy was at least 1 order of magnitude below the safety limits set by the ISO15004-2.2.

Keywords: Eye hazard; biohazard of smartphone light; iPhone retinal photography; retinal photography; smartphone light safety.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Ophthalmoscopy / adverse effects
  • Photography / methods*
  • Retina / diagnostic imaging*
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*