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Presenting the Arclight at 2023 Disability Innovation Summit

Posted on: Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

CBM is delighted to be showcasing the innovative Arclight at the 2023 Disability Innovation Summit this week, with our long-term partner Dr Andrew Blaikie, Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of St Andrews.

The Disability Innovation Summit, organised by Global Disability Innovation Hub, brings together global experts and new voices to share big ideas around disability innovation. The Summit convenes today, and CBM has been selected to showcase the Arclight, a cost-effective and lightweight alternative to traditional ophthalmoscopes.

Every day, people in the poorest places of the world lose the ability to see because of conditions that could easily be treated or prevented. In many countries cataracts are now one of the most common causes of avoidable blindness, and late detection has a major impact on outcomes.

Cataracts can be detected using an ophthalmoscope, but these devices are complex, heavy, and expensive. Many hospitals and clinics have limited or no access to these traditional instruments, making an early diagnosis of treatable conditions like cataracts difficult.

Dr Andrew Blaikie, in partnership with the University of St Andrews, worked to develop the Arclight – a low-cost, robust, lightweight, solar-powered ophthalmoscope and otoscope. It can be used to screen for eye conditions like cataracts, corneal infections, retinoblastoma, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma easily and quickly, and recharge in the sun avoiding the need for expensive batteries.

Dr Blaikie first got involved with CBM in 2011 when he spent six months working for CBM in Tanzania. Reflecting on this time he said:

“I really saw there the need for low cost ways to diagnose eye conditions. We’d see children presenting very late with conditions like cataracts too late for treatment, so they’d be permanently blind.”

Dr Blaikie has continued to work with CBM to bring inclusive eye care to remote communities. As part of our Light up Lives project in Zimbabwe Dr Blaikie and CBM delivered Arclight training workshops for public health workers in eight districts. Before the arrival of the Arclight, there was just one working ophthalmoscope across these eight districts; now, the Arclight is routinely used during eye examinations, with a network of local nurses training others to use the innovative tool.

Beyond Zimbabwe, CBM have delivered similar training workshops in Kenya and Malawi. Over 40,000 Arclights have now been distributed in more than 100 countries making a tangible difference to reducing avoidable blindness through early diagnosis and treatment.

Kirsty Smith, CBM UK’s CEO says,

“It is difficult to imagine a more cost-effective and appropriate tool for use in the field. The Arclight is a game-changer for diagnosing common causes of avoidable blindness. This innovative technology has already changed lives and we are excited that Dr Blaikie will be sharing it this week at the Disability Innovation Summit.”

Dr Blaikie will share the Arclight on behalf of CBM at the Disability Innovation Summit [opens in new tab], demonstrating the clinical need for the tool and its proven effectiveness in diagnosing eye conditions.

Find out more about CBM UK’s sight saving work here: Saving sight – CBM (cbmuk.org.uk)

Main image provided by Arclight Project