A Ukrainian health tech start-up is delivering free eye tests to thousands of residents at risk of sight loss caused by diabetes.
Kyiv-based CheckEye has developed an innovative tool that uses AI to test for retinopathy and seven other eye conditions in just ten minutes.
The screening tool is currently being rolled out to more than 20,000 patients in towns and cities in three regions across Ukraine in an attempt to reach many of the displaced people affected by the war.
CheckEye founder, Kirill Goncharuk, said:
“Even before the war, access to medical services in Ukraine required improvement.
“Now, with infrastructure damaged and growing pressures placed on health services, it is essential we step up to make a difference.”
Diabetic retinopathy the leading cause of vision loss in working age adults in Ukraine.
More than 2.3 million people in Ukraine live with type 2 diabetes, with numbers growing at an alarming rate.
Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced since the start of the war, with a third of those reporting that they are suffering from a lack of medicines and health services – especially a shortage of insulin.
The cloud-based eye test can find problems before they affect the individual’s and even can alert physicians to possible diabetes.
“Diabetic retinopathy is the leading preventable cause of severe vision impairment and vision loss in the world.
“Combining everything, this is a time bomb for public health, social services and the economy of Ukraine.
“The potential negative economic impact of untreated conditions, including eye diseases, is immeasurable.
“Simply put, if we detect diabetic retinopathy too late at such a large scale, we cannot afford the treatment and will lead to tens of thousands of disabled people being added to the working age population.”
CheckEye was scaled-up during the start of the war in 2021.
Working under the threat and reality of continuous missile strikes, the project team partnered with the Chernivtsi Regional Military Administration, the Ukrainian Diabetes Federation and The Filatov Institute for Eye Diseases to roll out the free eye-screening.
The test has so far been rolled out to 1,000 people in the Chernivtsi area of Western Ukraine, and is showing as 92 per cent accurate.
Meanwhile, 60 per cent of the people screened had not been previously aware of their eye condition, meaning they can now get affective treatment to curb the disease and its effects.
CheckEye’s Head of Legal, Andrew Chapkov, joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the first day of the invasion and took part in the military operation to de-occupy Bucha and Irpin and is still on the frontline today.