11 April 2016

In April 2016, Standard Chartered launched the second phase of the Seeing is Believing Innovation Fund, expanding five of their original projects and awarding grants to seven new projects.

Initially launched in 2013, the Innovation 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.

With grants totalling USD0.85 million, the seven newest projects are tackling a diverse range of issues associated with avoidable blindness. One such project is the Peek Vision Foundation and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which is training teachers in India to use an eye examination mobile app that can quickly identify children with eye problems and refer them for treatment.

Further projects include Aurolab, which is manufacturing affordable, robust and portable equipment to treat cataracts in India, and Aurolab in partnership with PlenOptika, which is developing an inexpensive and robust handheld device to measure a patient’s eye prescription in less than a minute. In addition, DAISY Consortium is working on a simple way for visually impaired people to read using a mobile device; the Fred Hollows Foundation is developing an app to enable hospital administrators across China to record their surgical results; the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is supporting practical skills training in retinal laser treatments; and Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center is treating glaucoma in rural China.

USD1 million in total has now been made available to further support five of the projects from the fund’s first phase to expand the scope of their work, either by continuing their research or scaling up their operations. These projects include Operation Eyesight Universal, which identifies children with eye problems using a smartphone-based screening system; the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which develops online training to improve diabetic retinopathy screening; and SightLife, which uses a social marketing framework to encourage consent for eye tissue donation in rural China. The final projects are LSHTM, which delivers online learning to eye care workers in resource-limited settings across Africa, and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which trains surgeons to perform complicated trichiasis surgery.

David Fein, Chairman of Seeing is Believing, said, “We are excited to award these innovation grants to these worthy organisations to enable them to continue to develop technological solutions to a host of challenges around avoidable blindness and sight impairment.”

Peter Ackland, Head of IAPB, expressed his support: “The Innovation Fund has allowed people and groups to approach that problem in unique and creative ways, and already we’ve made several breakthroughs that could revolutionise eye care across the globe.” Andrew Bastawrous, Founder of Peek Vision Foundation, concurred, “We’re trying to reach as many children as possible, and the Innovation Fund is helping us achieve that.”