Seeing is Believing has launched the second phase of its Innovation Fund, expanding five of the original projects and awarding grants to seven new projects.
Launched in 2013, the fund encourages innovators to develop pioneering ideas that have the potential to significantly impact how eye care is delivered in low and middle income countries.
The first phase funded landmark projects which included developing smartphone technology to enable eye screening in remote locations in Kenya, building platforms for high quality remote online training in Africa and manufacturing realistic eye models to enable surgical training in Tanzania and Ethiopia.
In this next phase SiB has awarded grants totalling USD1.85 million, including USD0.85 million to seven new projects to begin tackling a diverse range of issues associated with avoidable blindness.
These projects are:
· Peek Vision Foundation and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM): training teachers in India to use an eye examination mobile app developed by Peek to quickly identify children with eye problems and refer them for treatment;
· Aurolab: manufacturing affordable, robust and portable equipment to treat cataracts in India;
· Aurolab in partnership with PlenOptika: developing an inexpensive and robust handheld device that reliably measures a patient’s eye prescription in less than a minute;
· DAISY Consortium: designing a simple way for visually impaired people to use a mobile device to read books;
· Fred Hollows Foundation: developing a mobile app which enables hospital administrators across China to record and analyse their surgical results, and benchmark these against those of other hospitals to improve standards of care;
· Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: creating an online application to support practical skills training in retinal laser treatment; and
· Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University (ZOC): using laser treatment in rural glaucoma care in China.
Five of the projects from the fund’s first phase will now receive USD1 million to allow them to expand the scope of their work, either by continuing their research or scaling up their operations. These projects are:
· Operation Eyesight Universal: training teachers in remote parts of Kenya to use a smartphone-based screening system to identify children with eye problems and refer them for treatment;
· Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: developing online training to improve diabetic retinopathy screening across Bangladesh, Botswana, Indonesia and Tanzania;
· SightLife: using a social marketing framework to overcome the barrier of low consent to donation of eye tissue and organs throughout rural China;
· LSHTM: delivering free, online, professional learning to strengthen the planning and management skills of eye care workers in resource-limited settings across Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa; and
· Wake Forest University Health Sciences: training surgeons across Tanzania and Ethiopia to perform complicated trichiasis surgery on trachoma patients by developing a realistic eye model.