Project Lead(s): Mukesh Taneja
According to the World Health Organization 2010 data, about 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, with 80% of these cases being preventable through timely detection and intervention.
Despite the recent strides made in ocular care, services are generally limited to the urban areas and do not reach the needy population in remote rural areas. It is difficult for poor patients from rural areas to attend eye care facilities in urban centres.
This gap between the eye care providers and needy patients could be bridged by using tele-ophthalmic technology.
L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India, developed and implemented a tele-ophthalmic slit lamp eye examination system, which connects patients from remote areas to their ophthalmologists and eye care providers in real time.
With this tele-ophthalmic slit lamp bio microscope system, the functions of the slit lamp have been automated by using the latest computerized milling techniques to motorize all the slit lamp functions. This allows it to be remotely controlled from anywhere via a simple Internet connection and managed with any interface, such as a desktop computer, a tablet or even a smartphone.
Three fully functional, tele-ophthalmic slit lamp examination systems have been developed and deployed in Hyderabad, Paloncha and Chandrugonda in Telangana State. Hyderabad is a tertiary care centre of L V Prasad Eye Institute, while Paloncha is a secondary level eye care centre, 350 km away from Hyderabad, and is manned by two general ophthalmologists.
Chandrugonda is a primary care level vision centre, staffed by a trained vision technician, and is 400 km away from Hyderabad.
The centres have used the system to assess and successfully treat patients with corneal infections (fungal and bacterial keratitis) and post-surgical inflammation, as well as assessing post-corneal transplant patients.
Two more tele-ophthalmic units are in the final stages of development and will be deployed shortly.
The team intends to produce five more units, in order to have ten tele-ophthalmic units in place by the end of 2016.