The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) conferred the Eye Health Heroes Award to two researchers of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD).
As the premier eye health body, the 46-year-old IAPB groups more than 150 organisations in over 100 countries “working together for a world where everyone has universal access to eye care.”
“Two research assistants from the DOST-PCHRD-supported project “UK-Philippines Remote Retinal Evaluation Collaboration in Health: Diabetic Retinopathy” or REACH-DR are among this year’s awardees of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’ Eye Health Heroes,” DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña announced on DOSTv Facebook page on Friday, Dec. 3.
The DOST chief said the recipients of the IAPB award were Dr. Recivall Salongcay and Lizzie Anne Aquino who are involved in the REACH-DR project.
The REACH-DR is a Newton-Agham program that aims to establish a diabetic retinopathy screening program (DRSP) in the country.
“The REACH-DR project is responsible for the first validated use of artificial intelligence in the field of ophthalmology in the Philippines, where both researchers work on retinal imaging,” de la Peña said.
A validated artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm for diabetic retinopathy screening was successfully deployed in September this year, marking the first use of AI in ophthalmology in the country.
On Sept. 21, the REACH-DR team with the use of AI successfully performed and completed diabetic retinopathy screening in a target community in Nueva Ecija to identify diabetic retinopathy and other vision-threatening retinal diseases.
“Together with the Queen’s University of Belfast of the United Kingdom (UK), the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI) leads the program which aims to establish a diabetic retinopathy screening program (DRSP) in the country for a timely diagnosis of those at risk for diabetes-related blindness and vision loss,” de la Peña said.
The DOST-PCHRD said retinal screening is being conducted among underserved communities in Metro Manila and Central Luzon. The REACH-DR team is expected to complete the screening by June 2022.
The project is funded under the Newton Agham Program of the DOST-PCHRD and the UK Medical Research Council, it said.