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The Arclight Project: Affordable Technology for Improved Eye & Ear Health

The Arclight Project: Affordable Technology for Improved Eye & Ear Health

The Arclight Project, based at the University of St Andrews, UK has developed a range of frugal diagnostic instruments, simulation tools and educational content, empowering health workers of all grades to confidently diagnose and manage eye and ear disease.

Given the limited resources in low and middle income countries, it can be challenging to access traditional medical instruments like slit lamps, ophthalmoscopes and otoscopes. These tools are often costly, complex, and not widely available at the district or community level.  However, the Arclight Project has succeeded in overcoming these barriers by developing low-cost, easy to use solar-powered devices that do not require ongoing consumables such as batteries or bulbs. The Arclight is a direct ophthalmoscope, anterior segment loupe and otoscope, and the Wilson is an anterior segment loupe & otoscope.

WilsonRecently, the Arclight Project team has been working with several NGOs to support the focused training of health workers in challenging rural settings. The project has collaborated with TanZanEye to help teach community-level nurses in remote western Tanzania to identify eye disease and refer cataract cases. In Malawi and Zimbabwe, they partnered with CBM Global Disability Inclusion to pilot delivery of a new primary eye care (PEC) education package. This is aligned with the WHO manual but with a focus on implementation of the new solar-powered anterior segment loupe called the Wilson. The teaching materials and videos of example workshops are available for download from the Arclight Project website:

Danny Haddad, MD, Inclusive Eye Health director of CBM Global, has praised the project, stating “We see huge potential for the Arclight Project devices… normally tools can cost £100s but these are very affordable, providing opportunity to go to scale. This will lead to a complete transformation in how we screen, diagnose and triage eye problems in resource-poor regions of the world.” Ophthalmologist Dr Wicliff Mashaka, lead for eye services in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe, has also praised the Arclight Package as a “game-changer in the way we both train and equip community level health care workers as we ramp up and establish primary eye care in all regions of sub-Saharan Africa”.

Upcoming Product:

The Arclight Project team is now expanding its repertoire of devices and will soon be launching a third novel device: a pocket-sized, solar-powered Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope (BIO). It provides widefield 3D views of the fundus for screening of patients with diabetic retinopathy and premature babies. Recent research ( confirms equivalence to other more expensive traditional devices offering quality and portability yet at a low cost.  This device will now be a crucial addition to the armoury of eye health care workers against many of the major growing causes of blindness in low-income settings.

The team is committed to improving health outcomes in LMICs through targeted interventions and local partnerships. By effectively training and equipping health workers with appropriate tools, the Arclight Project is making eye care more accessible empowering communities to take control of their own eye and ear health to reduce the burden of preventable blindness and deafness.