Cohort: Aug 2018, India Age: 18 Location: Delhi NCR Domain: Health
Building easy-to-administer software test for early detection of eye defects in preverbal children, designed as per the needs of rural India.
Amblyopia, the most common eyesight condition in children, affects approximately 12 million children worldwide. It is fully treatable if detected early between ages 0-4 (preverbal stage) but current visual acuity tests are not accessible and affordable due to lack of professionals in rural areas, requirement of special hardware, and stringent testing conditions. The ophthalmologist to patient ratio in India is almost 1:10,000 and 76% of India’s population (712 million people) resides in rural areas. If left untreated or undetected in the advanced stage, refractive error conditions can lead to severe visual impairment/blindness. Thus, millions of children currently suffer in silence.
Ishita developed digiTAC, a fully automated Teller Acuity Test - the most popular eye test for preverbal children - using machine learning. It does not require special hardware or a trained medical expert to operate and can be used without an internet connection. It simply runs as a laptop application and provides on-the-spot diagnosis of visual acuity conditions. Thus, it solves all barriers faced in testing in low-resource settings. It was approved for and has successfully undergone the first round of clinical trials at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi (second round currently ongoing). She also founded Sunain, a health camp program that screens for visual impairments in children in rural areas using this software.
Ishita has worked with AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) in collaboration with the Head of Pediatric Ophthalmology and the hospital’s data analyst for the clinical trials. She also worked with a team of eight volunteers responsible for assisting in the organisation and implementation of health camps in Delhi. She has also had invaluable support from Barefoot College in implementing Sunain in 18 villages across Rajasthan.