Volk Optical’s Pictor Plus Portable Imager Used on Charitable Mission in Uganda

Handheld digital imager screened patients for diabetic retinopathy and pediatric retinoblastoma

Mentor, Ohio (July 9, 2015) – In April, Volk’s Pictor Plus was used by ophthalmologists from the Royal Free Hospital in London during a ten day charitable mission trip in Uganda. Volk’s Regional Manager for Europe, Terry Cooper, joined the Vision 2020 LINKS team, a group led by ophthalmologist Clare Davey, on a mission to reduce preventable blindness. The Pictor Plus was the only fundus camera available to the team and was used primarily for screening for diabetic retinopathy and examinations under anesthetic of retinoblastoma patients.

Specialist retinal nurse Sofia Mendonça uses the Pictor Plus to examine a patient at the Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda). Photo credit: Terry Cooper

Specialist retinal nurse Sofia Mendonça uses the Pictor Plus to examine a patient at the Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda). Photo credit: Terry Cooper (@capdailphotos)

The trip included clinics held at the Mulago Referral Hospital in the capital city of Kampala, as well as at Ruharo Eye Centre, in the far more remote city of Mbarara. The Pictor Plus handheld digital imager is ideal for mission and field work, delivering high quality retinal views in a compact device that weighs in at just one pound. For the mission trip, the Pictor Plus, its accessories, and a laptop with image capture software travelled in a standard sized backpack outfitted with a solar panel for field use and mobile battery recharge.

“I first learned about the Uganda trip when I met Clare Davey at a Congress,” explained Cooper. “As I learned the scope of the project, I realized that Pictor Plus would be great tool for the physicians on this mission. What’s more, I have a personal interest in charitable activities, so my involvement on Volk’s behalf really came together organically.”

With a 40° by 45° field of view of the fundus and two modules for both retinal and anterior anatomy imaging, clinicians were able to identify a range of patient pathologies. All stages of diabetic retinopathy, as well as serious conditions such as BRVO (Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion) and CRVO (Central Retinal Vein Occlusion) were seen. It was also used to examine retinoblastoma patients–particularly critical as the incidence of this childhood cancer in Uganda is nearly twice that of the UK (1-2 cases referred per week at just one hospital in Uganda, compared to 45 per year total in all the UK).

Typically during screenings at the Mulago Referral Hospital, four fundus images were taken of each patient with Pictor Plus: disc-centered and macula-centered, of each eye. The Pictor Plus’ eyecup provided stability to the camera, reduced stray light and generally helped team members get good images. Images were then transmitted wirelessly into Health Intelligence’s Spectra Retineye screening software for review by an ophthalmologist. Those with abnormal retinal findings were then further examined with optical coherence tomography (OCT) and treated with laser as appropriate.

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Routine fundus exam with Pictor Plus at Mulaga Hospital (Kampala, Uganda) Photo credit: Terry Cooper (@capdailphotos)

Cooper and the Pictor Plus then travelled to the Ruharo Eye Centre of the Ruharo Mission Hospital to work with ophthalmologist Keith Waddell. During the visit, the Pictor Plus was used for examination under anesthetic of retinoblastoma patients. It enabled the team to take fundus images of children ranging in age from two months to 12 years old with relative ease, running on its own solar power, rather the unreliable local power.

“It’s personally gratifying to have this opportunity as a part of Volk-to be able to share portable technology that can be used effectively in developing countries,” said Cooper. “The dire lack of eye care resources and infrastructure means people go needlessly blind.”

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Children at Ruharo Eye Centre diagnosed with retinoblastoma. (Mbarara, Uganda) Photo credit: Terry Cooper (@capdailphotos)

For team leader Davey, having a member of the team from the optical industry was especially helpful. “This visit was particularly successful because we had a very defined remit, because we have already established good working relationships with the team in Mulago, and because for the first time we had a member from the optical industry (Terry Cooper) who set up the equipment, optimized its use and helped train the local staff,” she said. “I recommend similar Vision 2020 visits to concentrate on taking the most effective team.”

 

Scroll down to read Terry Cooper’s personal dispatches from the trip.