JAN 12, 2017
Researchers from the United Kingdom have developed a pocket-sized, solar-powered ophthalmoscope that costs about $6.
Called the Arclight, the device is designed to help health workers in poor countries make a quick diagnosis at a screening, potentially saving the sight of millions of people around the world.
A study from the International Centre for Eye Health in London showed that it performs as well as traditional devices costing up to 100 times as much. It also conveniently doubles as an otoscope.
Through collaboration with the Fred Hollows Foundation and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, thousands of units have already been distributed to countries around the world, including Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Fiji, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.
Dr. Andrew Blaikie, a clinical academic at University of St Andrews , led a team of researcher that included scientists from the University of Leicester and University College London. He discusses the device in the December issue of the British Medical Journal, highlighting the role St Andrews’ Global Health Team.
“The work of the Global Health Team at St Andrews has helped focus attention on the exact needs and challenges of health care workers in low-income countries. We now aim to add internal memory loaded with teaching material and a clip to allow image capture with mobile phone cameras to the next version of the device,” said Dr. Blaikie. “At the same time we are developing several other potentially disruptive low-cost diagnostic tools aimed at serving the needs of health care workers in poorer countries.”
The University of St Andrews has also established a spin off company to promote sales of the device and coordinate the subsidized distribution to low income countries.