Eye-care kit wins $153K grant

ODocs Eye Care chief executive Dr Sheng Chiong Hong in Dubai. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
ODocs Eye Care chief executive Dr Sheng Chiong Hong in Dubai. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
ODocs Eye Care, developer of a world-first smartphone kit for diagnosing potential eye illness, has won a Dubai World Expo 2020 innovation grant valued at $US100,000 ($NZ153,000).

With the expo still 10 months away, its organisers have offered grants to leading innovation companies and organisations.

More than 200 countries are expected to be represented at what will be the Middle East’s first world expo, with more than 25 million visitors expected to attend during the six-month event.

ODocs, co-founded five years ago by opthalmologist and international rugby referee Dr Benjamin O’Keeffe and Dunedin-based Dr Sheng Chiong Hong, is believed to be the first New Zealand company selected for funding among a total of 120 global innovators across 65 countries.

Dr Hong said the company’s mission was to end preventable blindness through the use of affordable smartphone technology and artificial intelligence.

‘‘Emergency eye-care diagnosis can be slow, unresponsive and expensive. ODocs has created a portable eye-care kit that uses a 3-D printer and a smartphone to create ocular imaging adapters that take pictures of the eye and retina.’’

He said the invention, which comes in the form of a free app, performed a similar function to what could otherwise take $50,000 worth of eye examination equipment.

Dr Hong also won the Health Institute New Zealand’s Clinicians’ Challenge for his oDocs Eye Care initiative as well as the New Zealand Innovators Awards’ People’s Choice Award for the app.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, visual impairment and blindness affect at least 2.2 billion people worldwide.

The WHO estimates about 80% of cases are preventable or treatable.

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