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Utilization of Digital Health to Strengthen Access to Glaucoma Care

How digital technologies can be used for glaucoma screening...
Published: 11.03.2021
Sangeun Nho Yonsei University, Project BOM

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. The burden of the disease continues to increase and there is an urgent need for measures to control it. It is already well known that glaucoma is an avoidable cause of blindness, because progression of the disease to more advanced stage can be stopped by early screening and appropriate treatment. However, communities in low resource settings, where there is scant awareness of glaucoma and access to health, are still exposed to the risk and burden of glaucoma and blindness caused by it. This is a good representation of the health gap in the global society. Even within this health gap, there are more detailed inequities dependent on other social determinants of health (SDOH) such as socioeconomic level and gender inequity, which is one of the oldest and most proliferating inequities.

Recent studies regarding digital technology have proved technology’s efficiency and effectiveness in solving the problem of access to health -glaucoma care is no exception. For the early detection of the disease, optic nerve examination through fundus screening is effective, but the limitation is that the service only exists at secondary or tertiary hospitals where there are equipment and highly skilled eye health professionals. However, it is possible to overcome this barrier of current glaucoma screening by deploying portable fundus camera and operating eye health programme at primary health center in the community.

Project BOM has adopted this method and achieved 147.6% of screening rate compared to its initial goal at 21 commune health centers in Vinh Linh District of Quang Tri Province and 15 health centers in Donghy District of Thai Nguyen Province of Vietnam. People within communities could actively participate to the early screening campaign for glaucoma, thanks to the service in walking distance through the provision of portable ocular imaging devices and training of the already existing health professionals in the community. Project BOM with IAPB supported by Samsung Electronic will be expanding its digital technology-based eye health programmes to various countries including India, Bangladesh, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea this year.

There are increasing number of eye health organizations adopting digital technology to manage their eye health programmes. Applying digital technology can be a very effective solution to tackle the challenges of inequity while expanding coverage of eye health services, leaving NO ONE BEHIND.

Disclaimer: The views, ideas, technologies or policy positions in these blog posts belong to the authors and do not necessarily describe IAPB’s position or views on these matters.