Established in the 1980s, Michigan's and Kellogg’s collaboration with India’s Aravind Eye Care System continues to foster innovation. Aravind and Kellogg received the New World Medical Health Outcomes Research Award for 2019 to support research on potential enhancements of Aravind’s existing model to screen for and treat eye diseases in rural India.
New World Medical, Inc., is a privately held manufacturer of devices to treat glaucoma. The annual award supports research in eye health care delivery in under-served regions.
Assistant professor Joshua Ehrlich, M.D., M.P.H., is Kellogg’s co-principal investigator on the project, along with Rengaraj Venkatesh, M.D., and Dayakar Yadalla, M.D., from Aravind. “Aravind’s eye hospital in the city of Pondicherry is one of the only eye care facilities serving about four million people across a large geographic area,” Dr. Ehrlich explains. “They’ve developed a ‘hub-and-spoke’ approach to screen and triage patients. Monthly ‘eye camps’ are held in local villages to provide free screening, then patients who need surgery are transported to Pondicherry for no-charge care.”
The team took a novel approach to clinical trial design—randomizing eye camps instead of individual patients. Two technology upgrades were added to one group of camps: digital fundus photography to image retinas, and electronic health records to track follow-up.
Preliminary findings from the study of more than 3,000 patients show impressive increases in both the number of diseases diagnosed and the number of patients who receive follow-up care at the camps with the technology upgrades. Says Dr. Ehrlich, “We’re excited about the potential to build on Aravind’s proven approach to meet India’s and potentially other regions’ growing need to address age-related eye diseases.”