App brings virtual eye care to Bangladesh

ByMartha R. Camara

Oct 29, 2022

A start-up founded by a brother-sister duo is teaming up with one of Bangladesh’s largest eye hospitals in a bid to make eye doctor visits completely virtual.

Pradipta and Purnashree Chowdhury, who come from a family of ophthalmologists, developed the EyeBuddy app to provide the vision screenings and eye tests used in most exams, according to a University of Toronto press release. .

“We’re trying to create a whole ecosystem where a patient sitting at home can call an eye doctor,” said Pradipta, a graduate of the University of Toronto Scarborough last year and recently accepted into medical school. “Anyone can see a doctor 24/7 for immediate and certain eye problems.”

According to the press release, the app will also bring telehealth to ophthalmologists in the coming months, connecting patients in Bangladesh with ophthalmologists at a major eye hospital.

“In developing countries, transportation is big business. The best hospitals cannot provide services in remote areas,” said Pradipta, who aspires to become an ophthalmologist like his father. “But we can have a doctor in the palm of our hands.”

The university noted that the siblings are working to ensure that Bangladesh is just the first of many partnerships with hospitals around the world as their start-up continues to grow from The Hub, the entrepreneurial incubator at the University of Toronto-Scarborough.

“EyeBuddy is moving quite quickly with the full support of the community, the government and several leading doctors in Bangladesh,” said Graffam gray, former director of The Hub. “They are connected to something that can go beyond Bangladesh and their current relationship.”

Currently, the rest of the world can access EyeBuddy’s other features, which aim to make eye care fun. Daily eye tests inform users of potential early vision loss and eye conditions while tracking the progress of each eye. The app also features over 50 exercises that train all 12 eye muscles, and users can customize their workout for conditions like dry eye, lazy eye, and macular degeneration. They can also earn points, unlock milestones, and connect with others on the platform.

“It can be very depressing to know that you have an eye disease or loss of vision,” Pradipta explained. “We’re trying to build a huge community around people with similar eye conditions who can support each other.”

It turns out that this community is growing rapidly and the app now has over 17,000 subscribers and nearly 2,000 daily visitors from almost every continent. Although they designed EyeBuddy to appeal to all ages, the siblings also created a personalized version for kids with more colors and games and fewer medical terms. They hope to eventually roll it out to schools across Canada.

Purnashree pointed out in the press release that childhood is a crucial period for eye development; this is also the time when children can begin to adjust to eye conditions instead of asking for help.

“Early detection would greatly relieve the financial burden on families. If a disease is chronic, the treatment is long-term,” said Purnashree, who is a doctor in Bangladesh and is pursuing his license to practice in Canada. “With many conditions, we can avoid spending unnecessarily – if we can just get it back early.”

The Chowdhurys saw encouraging results after testing EyeBuddy in elementary schools. A teacher reported students playing with the app, uninvited, in the middle of class. A student found out he was colorblind through EyeBuddy and then followed the app’s recommendation to see an eye doctor.

“Health care is complicated. We wanted to create a user-friendly yet science-based app so people could be aware of their eye health and protect their eyes in a way that wasn’t boring,” says Pradipta,

According to the press release, Pradipta and Purnashree’s father is the director of a major eye hospital in Bangladesh. As Pradipta prepares to attend medical school in the UK, he and his sister noted that they were happy the app kept them in touch with each other and with their father, who was at school. back of the company in an advisory role.

“Through this app, we have a purpose that unites us,” Purnashree concluded.