Otago technology making difference worldwide

Dunedin’s Dr Hong Sheng Chiong checks for eye illness on a patient in Borneo. Photo: supplied.
Dunedin’s Dr Hong Sheng Chiong checks for eye illness on a patient in Borneo. Photo: supplied.
Technology developed by Southern DHB ophthalmology registrar and social entrepreneur Dr Sheng Chiong Hong is helping reduce preventable blindness in communities around the world.

Dr Hong’s company oDocs Eye Care won the innovative hi-tech mobile award at the recent New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards in Auckland.

The company makes an app and ocular imaging devices that enables mobile eye examinations using smart phones, giving community-based providers  such as optometrists, GPs and other health providers in remote locations and developing nations similar capabilities to hospitals and eye clinics.

Judges commented oDocs Eye Care was a stand-out choice in the category, demonstrating how mobility and innovation were both key pillars in delivering accessible, affordable health care both in New Zealand and internationally.

Cataracts and corneal abrasion were among the front-of-eye problems health professionals could detect using oDocs anterior segment microscope, while the ophthalmoscope enabled viewing of the retina at the back of the eye and diagnoses of retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachment. 

Health providers were able to download the app and device blueprints from the internet and produce the imaging devices locally using 3-D printing technologies.

Dr Hong’s invention previously earned the top award at the Health Institute New Zealand’s Clinicians’ Challenge and was the people’s choice award winner in the 2015 New Zealand Innovators Awards.

Dr Hong thanked his colleagues, the University of Otago and the SDHB for their support in his work and research.

"The DHB has made it easy and flexible for me to juggle between my clinical work and research," he said.

The next phase of development for oDocs Eye Care was the creation of a self-monitor system for glaucoma — the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide — which will enable patients to have their vision checked remotely, reducing the need to travel to hospitals for specialist appointments.

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