Blog: The Arclight Ophthalmoscope – An essential tool for Diabetic Retinopathy Screening
Dr Caroline Styles consultant Ophthalmologist with NHS Fife and Lead for Diabetic Retinopathy Screening in Scotland recently led a VISION 2020 Diabetic Retinopathy Links visit to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The capacity building link funded by the Scotland Malawi Partnership is led by Dr Styles and has been running since 2015. With over 18 million people being served by only 8 consultant ophthalmologists in Malawi it was obvious to Dr Styles that her team had to train and equip mid-level health care workers who are more numerous and working in both urban and rural areas. The team has now taught and equipped almost 150 ophthalmic clinical officers (OCO’s), nurses and optometrists from the southern, central and northern regions with every participant now owning a solar powered Arclight ophthalmoscope to perform diabetic retinopathy screening.
Dr Styles said “We have always used the Arclight ophthalmoscope and teaching tools which we have found incredibly useful. I do not know how we or any other link could deliver diabetic retinopathy training without them. We have learnt a lot over the past 3 years and the new simulated training eyes and resource-appropriate modified grading schemes we have developed have really improved the value of the teaching”. Work stemming from the link was recently published in BMJ Innovations with the latest evaluations of the simulation eyes and diabetes teaching materials being presented at the World Ophthalmology Congress in Barcelona.
Dr Joseph Msosa Consultant Ophthalmologist based at the Lions Eye Centre in Li-longwe and lead for retinopathy screening in Malawi said “The solar powered Arclight ophthalmoscope is an essential tool for our mid-level screening staff especially in rural areas allowing identification and grading of diabetic retinopathy for the first time. We are seeing more referrals for laser treatment preventing needless blindness”. The Arclight Training Package used in the training programme
The prevalence of diabetes is on the rise in Africa and screening for diabetic retinopathy is crucial to prevent blindness. There is however currently no systematic screening programme for diabetic eye disease in Malawi. Opportunistic hands on screening by Arclight empowered health care staff who can now make on the spot decisions is important as many people are presenting when they have already lost vision and it is too late for treatment.
Dr Styles and her team are now looking ahead to find further funding to continue their great work in Malawi.
The new much awaited and much improved Mark 3 Arclight will be available for LMIC via the IAPB Standard List Website.