Forus Health is addressing the healthcare delivery crisis in the developing world with innovative, low cost, and portable ophthalmic imaging devices for diagnosing diseases of the eye. Worldwide, approximately 285 million people are visually impaired, and 80% of these cases are the result of preventable causes such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and uncorrected refractive errors.1 This means that roughly 228 million people are suffering from visual impairments that could have been avoided by taking preventative action. Forus Health’s ophthalmic imaging devices are compact, rugged, and designed so a minimally trained technician may operate them in the absence of an ophthalmologist, easing their deployment and use in rural environments. They detect major ailments, such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cornea problems. Images of patients’ eyes are sent to qualified ophthalmologists using Forus Health’s cloud network, and within a matter of hours the patient receives a report.
In order to continuously observe patients’ eyes without irritation, ophthalmic devices must capture images in both the visible and near-infrared (NIR) spectra. Forus Health’s designs incorporated both stock and custom optical components from Edmund Optics® (EO) to capture high quality images in both wavelength regions.
Of the 285 million visually impaired across the globe, 40 million are completely blind.1 Forus Health is based in India, where 15 million people are blind.2 This is largely due to a lack of accessible health care, as the ophthalmologist-to-patient ratio is approximately 1:60,000. Many other countries face a similar lack of accessible eye care.
The leading causes of vision impairment are uncorrected refractive errors, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, trachoma, and corneal opacity (Figure 1). When left untreated, these conditions worsen and may lead to complete blindness. People 50 years and older account for 82% of all blind, and this percentage continues to increase as life expectancy increases.1
More than 15 million babies are born prematurely every year globally, which is more than 1 in every 10 births.3 60% of these premature infants are born in South Asia and Africa, and poorer families are at a higher risk. Low birth weight premature infants are at risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), an eye disorder where fragile blood vessels grow abnormally, which scars their retina and can blind them by pulling it out of position. When detected and corrected early on, ROP can be treated and blindness can be avoided.
Forus Health’s mission is to eradicate preventable blindness by creating mass screening ecosystems supported by portable, affordable ophthalmic devices and digital health platforms.
As Forus Health gained traction and scaled up their production, they came out with new models to address different challenges in combatting preventable blindness. The 3nethra classic, Forus Health’s flagship product, is a digital non-mydriatic fundus camera used to quickly capture and transmit images of the eye’s posterior and anterior surfaces. Mydriatic devices dilate the pupil before capturing images. The 3nethra neo differs from the classic in that it is mydriatic, ergonomically designed, lightweight, and hand-held for capturing 120° high-resolution images of the posterior and anterior segments of newborn eyes. The contact device is easily operated by qualified clinicians and can be deployed in versatile clinical environments such as hospitals, operating rooms, and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU).
All versions of the 3nethra are compact enough to be easily transported and deployed in rural regions, allowing Forus Health to provide much needed eye care to countries including India, the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Myanmar. Forus Health’s customers consist of a broad set of healthcare providers, such as ophthalmology hospitals and clinics, diabetic and diagnostic clinics, and vision centers. Forus Health continues to work towards creating a future where preventable blindness is a thing of the past.