The CRADLE app (Computer Assisted Detector Leukocoia) identifies traces of abnormal reflections from the retina called leukocoria or “white eye,” a primary symptom of retinoblastoma, and other common eye disorders.

CRADLE — developed by Baylor University researchers Bryan F. Shaw, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, along with Greg Hamerly, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science — searches through family photographs for signs of leukocoria.

Researchers determined the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of the prototype by analyzing more than 50,000 photographs of children taken before their diagnosis, says the study’s first author, Baylor senior University Scholar Micheal Munson. For children with diagnosed eye disorders, CRADLE detected leukocoria for 80 percent of the children an average of 1.3 years before an official diagnosis.

Limitations of traditional screenings

The effectiveness of traditional screenings during a general physical exam is limited, with signs of retinoblastoma via the detection of leukocoria in only 8 percent of cases. CRADLE’s sensitivity for children age 2 and younger surpassed 80 percent. That 80 percent threshold is regarded by ophthalmologists as the ‘‘gold standard” of sensitivity for similar devices, Munson said.

What makes the CRADLE app effective is the frequency and breadth of its sample sizes collected from everyday patients. Photos taken by family and friends offer another advantage -the number of environments and lighting conditions that may reflect off the ocular lesions regardless of their location in the eye.

As the app’s algorithm has become more sophisticated, its ability to detect even slight instances of leukocoria has improved.

“We suspected that the app would detect leukocoria associated with other more common disorders and some rare ones,” Shaw said. “We were right. So far parents and some doctors have used it to detect cataract, myelin retinal nerve fiber layer, refractive error, Coats’ disease, and of course retinoblastoma.”

Download the “White Eye Detector” app from Apple’s App Store.