A baby in Vietnam is examined for eye disease retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)

Using AI to save the sight of premature babies in hard-to-reach communities

Orbis is excited to announce a new partnership with Siloam Vision to expand our portfolio of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help diagnose and treat retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in hard-to-reach communities.

Orbis Volunteer Faculty Dr. J. Peter Campbell screens a premature baby for ROP
Dr. Pete Campbell: Credit Oregon Health Sciences

Siloam Vision is an exciting new cloud-based telemedicine platform that uses AI algorithms to help diagnose ROP, the leading cause of childhood blindness globally.

All babies born prematurely are at risk of developing ROP, a condition that damages the retina and can lead to blindness. However, ROP is entirely preventable with the appropriate care. A severe lack of trained professionals, equipment, and awareness about the disease in many countries means an estimated 32,000 pre-term babies become permanently blind or visually impaired from ROP every year.

It's particularly prevalent in Latin America and Southeast Asia where more premature babies are being saved, but few hospitals have the skills and resources to deliver the vision care needed.

The Siloam Vision platform is the brainchild of Orbis Volunteer Faculty members Dr. R.V. Paul Chan and Dr. J. Peter Campbell.

Dr. Campbell tells us: "We started Siloam Vision to improve the care of preterm babies around the world - but we can't declare success until it gets where it is most needed. We are incredibly excited to partner with Orbis to help bring AI and telemedicine to the care of babies at risk of ROP everywhere that it may be beneficial. ROP blindness is almost always preventable. Our shared goal is to partner to make that a reality."

Dr. Chan, who has been involved with Orbis since his first training project in Vietnam in 2010, tells us: There are many efforts focused on training ROP specialists around the world, but it will take decades before there will be enough coverage. Telemedicine using digital images is an effective force multiplier, enabling clinicians to reach more patients than ever before. We are excited to partner with Orbis to help save the sight of more preterm babies in hard-to-reach communities.”

Orbis Volunteer Faculty member Dr. Paul Chan works with a Flying Eye Hospital trainee in Kolkata, India

Orbis Volunteer Faculty Dr. R.V. Paul Chan training eye teams during a Flying Eye Hospital project in Kolkata.

Orbis brings unparalleled expertise in ROP tele-screening thanks to our experience using CybersightTeleconsult. Orbis’s role will be to help get this innovative technology into the communities where it’s needed most.

Derek Hodkey, Orbis CEO

“We are thrilled to partner with Siloam Vision to get this technology to the people who need it most,” says Derek Hodkey, President and CEO of Orbis International. “Orbis has a deep history in telemedicine and we are proud to bring our expertise in this area to diagnose and prevent ROP. We look forward to rolling out the technology with our partners that have active ROP programs and expanding to others in the future.”

The partnership with Siloam Vision builds on Orbis's work in the AI and eye care field. Cybersight AI, an AI tool on Orbis's telemedicine and e-learning platform, is actively used in Orbis programs in Rwanda and Vietnam to identify abnormalities often associated with common eye diseases in seconds. Orbis is also invested in AI research and has published studies on the effectiveness of AI to detect eye diseases in low- to middle-income countries. AI is considered the next frontier in ophthalmology for its potential to revolutionize eye screenings, diagnostics, and treatment. Thanks to our supporters and partners, we're working to ensure eye care professionals everywhere can access these tools for free.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Dr. J. Peter Campbell and Dr. R.V. Paul Chan for all that they have done to improve the quality of eye care around the world. We would also like to thank our supporters, who ensure we are able to use the latest advancements in ophthalmic technology in some of the hardest-to-reach communities.

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