The World Health Organization identifies blindness and vision impairment as one of the major determinants of poor quality of life and financial productivity of individuals. According to LANCET, Vision loss causes $410.7 billion in lost productivity annually. While this problem is global in nature, its effects are compounded in mid-to low-resource countries like India. Of the total magnitude of blindness and vision impairment, up to 85% of them are due to avoidable causes like uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts. The vast majority of the remaining can be addressed through appropriate medical and technological interventions. It has been well-recognized that such a global problem can be best addressed through a team of professionals that tackle multiple dimensions of the problem. On the medical side, the team will comprise ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic technicians, and nurses that will offer optical, rehabilitative, therapeutic, and surgical care to patients. On the technology side, the team should comprise equipment-maintenance technicians and biomedical engineers who will develop novel technology to bridge critical gaps in the medical system. While robust models for eye care delivery have been developed on the medical side of things (e.g., the pyramidal model of eye care by LVPEI), significant gaps still exist in meeting the technology side of the problem. The proposed Master’s degree level collaborative training program between LVPEI and IITH is an attempt to successfully bridge this gap.
How will this collaborative program bridge the gap?
As such, in a country like India, there is no dearth of engineers who get trained from qualified programs across the country. Several of them also take up technology innovation as part of their professional career. The gap however lies in the siloed work culture of engineers and health care professional and their limited understanding of each other’s capabilities and problems that needs a solution. For instance, a health care professional may be largely unaware of the technology surrounding them that may help solve a medical problem they are currently facing. The engineer, on the other hand, might have the technology know-how to solve this problem but is unaware of the specific nature of the problem that needs to be solved. It is our belief that the aforementioned gap in medicine, in general, and ophthalmic care, in specific, will be effectively solved if these siloes are broken and health care professionals and engineers are empowered in knowledge and skill about each other’s field. This may be achieved through a training program that blends essential elements of medical care (ophthalmic care, in this instance) and engineering (optics, biomechanics, and controls engineering, in this instance).
Ability to reach the unreached in a clinically valid manner
Lead in devising precision eye care using engineering technology
Ability to understand, assimilate & apply every technology in Eye care.
Be a bridge between the medical & engineering professionals especially in ophthalmic field
Ability to refine/ simplify the technology to improve the result or reduce the cost substantially
Thorough with fundamentals of electrical/electronics/optical/design/software engineering and all sub-divisions of ophthalmology and its technologies
Have a project completed using one or more of the technologies used in Opthalmology
Well trained in 3-4 (sensors/control systems/ AI-ML/ optoelectronics) advanced technologies (as per their electives)
Thorough with clinical research / validation methodologies specifically related to technology
Well prepared to manage medical technology business / startups