BANGALORE, INDIA: Narayana Nethralaya Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology, Bangalore which has been involved in pediatric community eye outreach programs for over 25 years has helped evolve a unique tele-medicine software which allows screening of rural and semi-urban infants for a potentially blinding condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity along with other common conditions including ocular cancers.
The institute has helped provide the access of this software on the iPhone. The development is said to have large consequences in reducing the blindness burden of the country.
“Retinopathy of prematurity is the leading cause of preventable infant blindness worldwide. In India, over 8 percent of 27 million births each year are at risk of this potentially blinding condition. Roughly if 100 ‘at-risk’ infants are screened, 15-20% may require treatment that can prevent blindness. This requires a fast and efficient system of screening infants especially in the peripheral rural areas where expertise is lacking”, said Dr Anand Vinekar, Project Co-Ordinator & Pediatric Retinal Surgeon, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore.
“Since we began two years ago in seven districts of Karnataka, we have successfully treated over 150 infants and screened over 1500, but we used the ‘store and forward’ technology that was slow and did not solve security and storage issues.” Dr Vinekar remarked.
“With the experience of over 56,000 images of infant retinas in our database, we required a dedicated web-based software with progressive viewing to speedily allow access to our experts at the base hospital. This quest lead to the development of this new technology” said Dr Bhujang Shetty, Chairman of Narayana Nethralaya.
"There isn’t anything more rewarding than seeing the anxious look of a mother with a new born at risk of blindness and giving her reassurance that the best care is only a click away on a doctors iPhone" said Sham Banerji, CEO of i2iTeleSolutions, the collaborating software partner. "The i2i team is proud that our CARE TeleOphthalmology software connects ROP specialists to pre mature infants in the farthest corners of India.”
The i2i Teleopthalmology Application running on Apple’s iphone ushers in a new era of telemedicine letting doctors see amazingly clear images of the retina and report findings anywhere, anytime, realtime. The new pilot will run for 36 months at which time we expect TeleROP to be deployed on a much broader scale across the country and soon in other countries linking them in this unique way.