School screening in rural Kenya – using a mobile phone!

Written by Admin, published on March 24, 2015 Donate Today
Proud teacher Wilberforce Nyukuri demonstrates the PEEK app screen.

Last spring, we told you how Operation Eyesight helped fund an exciting technological development that will revolutionize eye examination: a smartphone application called Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK).

Now being tested in rural schools in Kenya, the school-based PEEK pilot project is helping build capacity of teachers to monitor and evaluate the visual acuity of their students.

Wilberforce Nyukuri, 41, has been a teacher for four years at Kiminini Primary School, located in Transzoia County in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Before he was sensitized about eye problems, the teacher admits that it was not easy for him to recognize children with low vision or other eye issues. The only help he could offer a child was to move them to the front of the classroom to better see, or inform their parents.

Through Operation Eyesight’s Child Eye Health project supported by Seeing is Believing, Wilberforce was trained on the principles of primary eye care, and later was picked for PEEK training.

Wilberforce praises PEEK’s efficiency, adding it has completely removed paperwork from the screening exercise. Data is transmitted directly from the smartphone to a doctor’s computer. “PEEK is perfect. It is very fast to screen and less tiring,” he says, noting about 950 pupils were screened at his school as part of the PEEK study.

Dr. Hillary Rono, an ophthalmologist in charge of Kenya’s North Rift Zone (population 2.5 million people), is an investigator in the pilot project. His interest in validating PEEK arose from the scarcity of eye workers and the need for early detection and treatment of children with visual impairment.

According to Rono, school screening in most parts of Kenya is conducted by eye health workers, which takes time that could otherwise be used in treating patients. By using mobile phone technology and PEEK, teachers can independently conduct screening in their schools.

Technology is creating important new ways to help fight avoidable blindness – and we will keep you up to date on PEEK’s progress! Special thanks to Seeing is Believing for funding this exciting project.