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The Arclight Project has gained considerable interest from the mainstream media as well as academic institutions, industry magazines and conference reports. Below are some of the recent highlights.

Scottish Ophthalmological Club Undergraduate Prize: Calum Silcock

Calum Silcock has won the Undergraduate Prize for his presentation at the Scottish Ophthalmological Club (SOC) on ‘Comparative evaluation of a dedicated eye care AI chatbot: ‘Alan’ v ChatGPT.’ Calum, a final year medical student from Dundee, has been working with Dr Andrew Blaikie and William Williams on a new eye care AI chatbot for use alongside the Arclight in eye care diagnosis. This work was an ideal fit for the thread of AI and big data running through the SOC programme, with talks on advances in AI retina analysis, deep learning in keratoconus, and utility of chatGPT in optometry advice requests.

The Newton Tonometer Research Team based in Kampala, Uganda and funded by Glaucoma UK met for the first time face to face and online in November

Pictured from left to right are Dr Andrew Blaikie, Arclight Project lead, Dr Immaculate Atukunda, Research lead in Uganda at Makerere University, William J Williams, design lead for the Arclight Project and Dr Andrew Tatham Principal Investigator based at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh.

The team hopes the clinical arm of the study can start in March 2024 and report the results of how accurate the low cost Newton tonometer is compared to gold standard devices later in the year.

Senior Lecturer Dr Andrew Blaikie received the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Award

Senior Lecturer Dr Andrew Blaikie received the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Award at the annual awards dinner, held in Edinburgh on Thursday, 2 November. Run by the Daily Record in partnership with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, the awards aim to recognise those who embody the high quality of health and social care services delivered by the NHS to people in Scotland, as well as further afield.

Dr Blaikie, a consultant ophthalmologist with NHS Fife and lead for the Arclight Project based in the School of Medicine, received the Global Citizenship Award.

The Arclight Project enables those working in low- and middle-income countries to equip, train and empower health workers of all grades to confidently diagnose and manage eye and ear disease. Dr Blaikie received the award in recognition of his work, in collaboration with a range of NGOs, delivering primary eye care to community and mid-level healthcare workers in sub-Saharan African.  

Dr Blaikie was unable to attend the event but sent a pre-recorded video message from Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe, where he is currently working with CBM Global Eye Care.

Dr Blaikie said: “I am delighted to see the work of the Arclight Project team recognised through this award, highlighting the need to address the huge burden of blindness in so many of the poorer regions of the world.”

He also expressed his appreciation for the contributions of his NHS Fife and University colleagues.

Andrew Blaikie, Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine, University of St Andrews, and Clinical Lead for the Arclight Project has been appointed as an Honorary Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

In his new role, he will join the team at the International Centre for Eye Health, contributing to their high-quality teaching and research efforts. Professor Matthew Burton, Director of the Centre, expressed delight at Andrew’s addition to the team, highlighting his valuable experience and enthusiasm gained from working with various NGOs in East Africa through the University of St Andrews-based Arclight Project.

Professor Burton said, ‘It is great to have Andrew joining the team and we look forward to collaborating in the further development and evaluation of frugal training and diagnostic tools for primary eye care in resource-limited settings’.

Arclight Project working in Nairobi Slums with DOT Glasses & SHOFCO

The Arclight project are partnering with DOT glasses & SHOFCO to train and equip all their staff working in the major slums of Nairobi. This is with the aim of their teams being able to deliver comprehensive eye examinations in their spectacle distribution work in these marginalised and grossly underserved populations. Dr Blaikie delivered a workshop in Mathare slum to the DOT glasses health care team from the whole Nairobi region. This will be an on-going collaboration with expansion to other slums and refugee camps in Kenya.

Ugandan Study to Evaluate Eye Pressure Measurement Tool

The Arclight Project team have been successful in securing a £40,000 grant from Glaucoma UK to evaluate a new eye pressure measuring device called the Newton to help diagnose Glaucoma. This study will be delivered in Kampala with the University of Makerere led by Dr Immaculate Atukunda who is a Senior Lecturer there as well as honorary in the School of Medicine.

Scottish Ophthalmological Club Bursary Award: Dr Obaid Kousha

Dr Obaid Kousha won the £2000 Scottish Ophthalmological Club travel bursary this month. This is the second year in a row that Obaid has won this prestigious award and the 4th time in the last 6 years that the team has won this prize. Obaid presented his diabetic retinopathy screening work from Sulawesi funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund and the University Impact Fund. Obaid aims to use the prize to develop retinopathy of prematurity simulation eyes for the Holo BIO device.

Grant Success Malawi: Dr Obaid Kousha

Dr Obaid Kousha, SCREDS Lecturer with the Arclight Project team and lead for Binocular Indirect Eye Screening Programmes was recently successful in obtaining a £10,000 grant in collaboration with colleagues in Malawi. The purpose of the grant is to develop Cerebral Malaria retinal simulation eyes and deliver a workshop to train clinical officers to diagnose cerebral malaria using the latest Arclight Project device – the Holo. Obaid will be travelling to Blantyre, Malawi this month to deliver the training as part of an implementation research study.

Fife Ophthalmic Resource for Global Education (FORGE) Opens: Innovative Screen-Casting Arclight ScotGEM Teaching

Dr Blaikie delivered 3 half day workshops to the 2nd year ScotGEM students in the newly opened Fife Ophthalmic Resource for Global Education (FORGE) based in the Ophthalmology department at Queen Margaret Hospital. The teaching was enhanced by the use of new ‘screen casting’ technology allowing live examination video to be projected from an Arclight device combined with a mobile phone camera to larger wall mounted monitors. This allows all the students in the class to observe live examinations in detail in real time. The technology offers the opportunity for immediate replay and annotation of the captured examination to highlight important anatomical features strengthening the educational impact.

Primary Eye Care Workshops Kenya: CBM Global, African Inland Church Health Ministry & Arclight Project

Dr Blaikie delivered a week long Primary Eye care workshop in Isiolo county of Kenya with the African Inland Church Health Ministry and CBM Global. 100 health care workers were trained and equipped with a team of trained trainers now ready to cascade training to the wider region.

Tele-ophthalmology in Zambia: Virtual Doctors & The Arclight Project

Dr Blaikie presented a scientific paper on telemedicine and delivered a seminar on medical education at the recent African Ophthalmology Meeting (COECSA) in Mombasa, Kenya. The meeting also offered the opportunity meet with implementing NGO and Ministry of Health leads and network with supra-national policy makers.

NHS 75th Anniversary Global Citizenship Award Finalist : Dr Andrew Blaikie

Dr Blaikie has been nominated for the final of the NHS 75th Anniversary Global Citizenship Award. This award recognises outstanding commitment to health care work in low resource countries while serving in the NHS. The winners will be announced at the final gala event in Edinburgh on November the 2nd.

Dr Andrew Blaikie

Global Disability Hub Presentation: Arclight Project & CBM Global

Dr Blaikie presented a pre-recorded lecture at the Global Disability Hub meeting in London in collaboration with CBM UK. The presentation is in this link: Arclight Project & CBM Global: Disability Hub Presentation with a review of the talk and meeting here: CBM UK News: Arclight Project

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WHO recommendations on maternal and newborn care for a positive postnatal experience

The World Health Organisation have included the Arclight ophthalmoscope in its most recent recommendations for eye examinations in the newborn. This is the first time that eye examinations have been recommended in low resource settings. This change to policy has been driven by the expanding evidence base for the device and the instructional materials developed by the Arclight Project team with the London School of Hygiene and tropical medicine with the Ministry of Health in Tanzania.


WHO includes universal newborn eye screening in their first ever postnatal care guidelines

The International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) have highlighted the World Health Organisation’s latest recommendations to include eye examinations for newborns in low resource settings. The recommendation has been driven by the growing evidence base for the Arclight direct ophthalmoscope being a low cost yet effective alternative to otherwise impractically expensive and overly complex traditional tools.


Frugal Ophthalmology

The Royal College of Ophthalmologist’s published a review of the Arclight Project’s frugal approach to eye care  in a recent ‘FOCUS’ article. The article highlights the increasing awareness of the Arclight diagnostic and training tools by the wider ophthalmic community both in the UK and globally.

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WHO Primary Ear and Hearing Care Training Manual.

There is a strong and growing evidence base for the Arclight otoscope being equivalent in practical function to more expensive traditional devices. It has been highlighted in the latest (March 2023) edition.

WHO Training Manual

COECSA Conference Malawi 2022

Dr Blaikie, Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine and Ophthalmologist in NHS Fife was an invited speaker at the College of Ophthalmology of East, Central and Southern Africa (COECSA) in Lilongwe, Malawi last week.

He delivered a talk on the Arclight Project and the Primary Eye Care education programmes that the team has been implementing in Malawi this year with the Christian Blind Mission (CBM). This work was funded by UK AID and the Malawi Millennium Fund.

As well as giving an invited lecture he presented 5 different research papers from the Arclight team. These involved partnerships with the University of Rwanda, Sabatia Eye Hospital in Kenya, NHS Fife, vCreate Telemedicine Platform, University of Glasgow and the Glasgow Caledonian University. The work was funded by the Scottish Funding Council, the Global Challenges Research Fund, the Ulverscroft Foundation and the University of St Andrews Impact fund.

He is photographed here with two of his Ophthalmology colleagues from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda: Rebecca Lusobya and Immaculate Atakunda. Together with Dr Blaikie they secured a grant from Makerere University Research & Innovations Fund to deliver a study on the ‘Comparative assessment of the anterior segment loupe of the Arclight device amongst ophthalmic clinical officers in Uganda’. Immaculate who led the research presented the results of this study and is now looking to publish in the near future.

As well as presenting research the meeting was an opportunity to network with several of the major eye care NGOs as well as National Eye Care Coordinators from many of the countries from the region.

COECSA is to be held in Mombasa, Kenya next year where the organising committee have invited the Arclight Project team to deliver several ‘hands-on’ Arclight Project workshops.

Andrew Blaikie at COECSA 2002 with 2 colleagues

Eye Specialist Advocates For Prompt Referral Of Abnormal Eye Conditions

Professor Vera Adobea Essuman, an Eye Specialist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, is advocating the prompt referral of abnormal eye conditions to help reduce the mortality rate of retinoblastoma in Ghana.

Jamie Bankhead & Andrew Blaikie at Scottish Edge

Scottish Edge Entrepreneurial Awards

Andrew Blaikie, lead of the Arclight Project and Jamie Bankhead, CEO of Konglomerate Games, attended the recent Scottish Edge Finals entrepreneurial awards evening held in Edinburgh. The team pitched a proposal for gamifying eye care education on low end android phones for use in resource poor settings. This is with the aim of overcoming the current COVID restrictions that are limiting access to education in many low and middle income countries. The pitch was successful with the team being awarded a £10,000 Scottish Edge prize to develop the games in 2022.

Jamie Bankhead & Andrew Blaikie at Scottish Edge

Best Paper Presentation, Scottish Ophthalmology Club Spring meeting 2022

Retinal lasering is used to treat blinding eye conditions such as diabetic eye disease. Retinal lasering is a potentially hazardous procedure, therefore simulation-based training ideal to learn the skill in a safe and controlled environment. However, most simulation tools are too expensive for those training in low resource settings where the need is greatest.

The Arclight team have developed a low-cost simulation eye adapted for retinal laser training and assessment. The ‘eye’ costs £4 but it has a paper retina that the user can re-print as needed. It has been validated by experts as a teaching tool and presented in Scottish Ophthalmology Club Spring meeting 2022 where it won the prize for the best paper presentation.  View Presentation.

Obaid Kousha - Best Paper Presentation Scottish Ophthalmology Club Spring meeting 2022

Arclight Review

“Find out why the Arclight is the best value diagnostic set available and why you should use it.”  Watch Arclight Review

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Eye to Eye Podcast

“The College works in collaboration with the Ophthalmologists in Training Group to produce a bi-monthly podcast. The podcast features interviews with researchers on recent papers, analysis of the latest developments in ophthalmology and updates from the College.”

Royal College Ophthalmologists

What is the Arclight?

“The Arclight is a multi-purpose solar-powered diagnostic tool that combines a direct ophthalmoscope, anterior segment loupe and otoscope (as well as a number of other functions) into a small highly portable device.”

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Arclight Tandem Africa

“In October 2018, Alex McMaster and Merlin Hetherington set out from Cairo to ride a tandem bike to Capetown. The 10,000km journey would pass through 10 countries, where the two had arranged to provide training and devices for health-care workers in a variety of settings.”

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Know the Glow: Dr Andrew Blaikie

“Dr. Andrew Blaikie was fresh out of the cataract operating theatre in NHS Fife, Scotland when Megan Webber, Co-Founder of KnowTheGlow sat down to zoom with the ophthalmologist and senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews School of Medicine.”

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Arclight: A New Ophthalmoscope and Otoscope

“There are items of equipment without which a GP in clinic cannot function. Top of this list comes a stethoscope. Closely followed by an ophthalmoscope or otoscope.”

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Pakistan Journal of Ophthalmology: Arc Light as an Alternative Approach to Diagnose Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) At Grass Root Level of Health Care System.

“Vision 2020 is the global initiative, launched in 1999 by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and World Health Organization (WHO), with the aim of eliminating avoidable blindness. In Pakistan, the national survey done in 2006 showed prevalence of blindness to be 3.4% and severe visual impairment as 4.9% in patients who were 30 years or older.”

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Astrophysics Data System: Comparison between the Arclight Ophthalmoscope and a standard handheld direct ophthalmoscope: a clinical study

“The direct ophthalmoscope, a handheld device gives a highly magnified image of the retina. However, the sustainability of power source and cost are a limitation considering the usage demand. We compared a low-cost solar-powered Arclight ophthalmoscope with a standard ophthalmoscope Heine K180 in terms of ease of examination, usage, field of view, color rendition and patient comfort.”

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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: The Arclight Ophthalmoscope: A Reliable Low-Cost Alternative to the Standard Direct Ophthalmoscope

“The Arclight ophthalmoscope is a low-cost alternative to standard direct ophthalmoscopes. This study compared the Arclight ophthalmoscope with the Heine K180 direct ophthalmoscope to evaluate its reliability in assessing the vertical cup disc ratio (VCDR) and its ease of use (EOU). Methods. Eight medical students used both the Arclight and the Heine ophthalmoscopes to examine the optic disc in 9 subjects.”

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

University of Dundee: Comparative evaluation of a novel solar powered low-cost ophthalmoscope (Arclight) by eye healthcare workers in Malawi

“This study compared a novel low-cost solar powered direct ophthalmoscope called the Arclight with a traditional direct ophthalmoscope (TDO). After appropriate training, 25 Malawian eye healthcare workers were asked to examine 12 retinal images placed in a teaching manikin head with both the Arclight ophthalmoscope and a traditional direct ophthalmoscope (Keeler Professional V.2.8).”

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ArXIV, University of Cornell: Synthesising Wider Field Images from Narrow-Field Retinal Video Acquired Using a Low-Cost Direct Ophthalmoscope (Arclight) Attached to a Smartphone

“Access to low cost retinal imaging devices in low and middle income countries is limited, compromising progress in preventing needless blindness. The Arclight is a recently developed low-cost solar powered direct ophthalmoscope which can be attached to the camera of a smartphone to acquire retinal images and video.”

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“When attached to a mobile phone camera the Arclight Ophthalmoscope (AO) can acquire reti- nal video segments, offering an ultra-low cost opportunity to expand telemedicine in low-income settings. Innate limitations of direct ophthalmos- copy, i.e. narrow field of view, limit clinical utility, particularly in screening for diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. We aimed to create a novel computer algorithm capable of extracting images from videos providing wider-field fundal montages.”

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology

IEEE Xplore: Synthesising Wider Field Images from Narrow-Field Retinal Video Acquired Using a Low-Cost Direct Ophthalmoscope (Arclight) Attached to a Smartphone

“Access to low cost retinal imaging devices in low and middle income countries is limited, compromising progress in preventing needless blindness. The Arclight is a recently developed low-cost solar powered direct ophthalmoscope which can be attached to the camera of a smartphone to acquire retinal images and video.”


UCL Discovery: Arclight: a pocket ophthalmoscope for the 21st century

“Around 285 million people in the world are estimated to be visually impaired, and 360 million hearing impaired, with the majority of cases considered preventable or treatable if diagnosed promptly. Ophthalmoscopes and otoscopes are typically designed for wealthy countries and are complex, heavy, and expensive; their basic designs have remained relatively unchanged for over 100 years.”

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AIPB: Arclight

“Arclight is an easy-to-use, pocket-sized ophthalmoscope made for diagnosing eye diseases in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). Heavily discounted prices for LMIC enabling health workers in out-reach or screening programs to make instant on-the-spot diagnostic decisions.”


MDU Journal: Visionary ideas: the Arclight and RCP bedside vision check tool

“A small team based out of the School of Medicine at St Andrews University has helped develop an innovative pocket ophthalmoscope and otoscope called the Arclight, which is designed to be used in almost any clinical setting. “

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Eye News: The Arclight: A ‘pocket’ ophthalmoscope to revitalise undergraduate teaching?

“Ophthalmoscopy should be a core skill for every doctor and should be firmly embedded in the undergraduate curriculum similar to the unquestioned position of the stethoscope. The simplicity of the Arclight means it is easy to use and, importantly, to learn to use.”

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Rotary, St Andrews: Gregor Townsend in Look Who’s Talking

“Scottish rugby coach, Gregor Townsend gave an entertaining interview about his career. Over £5000 was raised for St Andrews Rotary’s Arclight project, helped by sponsorship from Henderson Black & Co accountants.”

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