Tele-ophthalmology to Task-shift Vision Screening in Rural India

Team: CBID: Visilant

Program: Biomedical Engineering

The goal of our project is to provide accessible vision care to more vulnerable populations in South India. The Aravind Eye Hospital (AEH), located in South India, is the largest provider of vision care in the world, with the mission of eliminating avoidable blindness. Today, 148 million people in rural India suffer from avoidable vision loss and lack access to vision care. Economic, transportation, and cultural barriers limit access to specialized ophthalmic providers in a timely manner. The current pandemic has only exacerbated these barriers. Before the pandemic, AEH would hold periodic, one-day eye camps in select rural villages to diagnose and transport patients to the base hospitals. However, even these eye camps were not accessible to 80% of individuals requiring vision care, and COVID-19 has further limited outreach efforts.

Our team is developing a community-based, telemedicine-enabled screening program to diagnose the leading causes of vision loss in individuals who have historically lacked access to vision care. Our telemedicine app task-shifts screening to volunteer community health workers (CHWs) by providing adaptive screening protocols and a guided physical examination. Using our app, CHWs can screen rural patients in the community, securely send patient information to AEH for an ophthalmologist to review, after which the patient can be diagnosed and referred. This will enable AEH to expand their outreach by providing continuous access to eye screening in rural communities while eliminating the economic and transportation barriers to diagnosis.

Dr. Yadalla Dayakar
Dr. R. Venkatesh
Dr. Kunal Parikh
Dr. Nakul Shekhawat
Soumyadipta Acharya
Dr. David Friedman
David Green

Team Members