No one really knows why in 1847 the great Charles Babbage built a device that could view the inside of a living eye. But what we do know is that within just a few short years our understanding of both healthy and diseased eyes had undergone a complete revolution, and modern ophthalmology was born.

Today we can study eyes in stunning detail; with the slit lamp, fundus camera, OCT… but that first true piece of examination technology – the ophthalmoscope – still has its place. It is simple and effective, and remains a vital tool in trained hands. Yet, in much of the world few front-line health workers even now in 2014 have access to the most basic of diagnostic equipment, and a path into this inner world.

Over time ophthalmoscopes have become ever more complex and expensive, with even the simplest – with no lenses – costing almost £65. While quality modern scopes are flexible tools for the skilled specialist, for the student or field health worker they come loaded with rarely used features. More has become less: less easy to learn, less affordable, and less user-friendly. We have used Babbage’s greatest gift – the computer – to create a simpler yet more advanced multi-function device. Designed for the real world, limited resources, and tough conditions.


Consider a remote rural clinic, run by an individual with an ophthalmic interest. Here the only ‘instrument’ might be but a cheap torch! Can they really distinguish between cataract and macular degeneration? Or perhaps think of those turning the pages of an ophthalmic textbook where every photo, whilst fascinating, is in the end academic – as they will never see the real thing. Most medical students would not think of qualifying without a stethoscope round their neck and a patella hammer in their pocket. Yet most feel they cannot afford an ophthalmoscope. The collective mindset has become: that they can’t ‘do’ eyes – it’s all just too hard. Fred Hollows introduced affordable microscope surgery and also drove down the price of intraocular Lenses. Well in that same bold spirit we’d like to introduce…


Direct ophthalmoscopes produce: magnified, easy-to-interpret, upright images – ideal for viewing the fine detail of the retinal blood vessels, the macula, and especially the optic nerve head. The instrument is packed with breakthrough features. Designed from the bottom-up in the interests of both manufacturing and operator simplicity and a low end cost.

  • Solar and USB powered. Integral wide-field loupe that with a speculum doubles as a remarkably manoeuvrable otoscope.
  • Brilliant true-colour white virtually unbreakable LEDs render eye and ear tissues accurately and evenly. The unique violet/blue LED is perfect with fluorescein to reveal subtle yet vital corneal defects.
  • Exceptionally easy-to-use. Just one main switch. Multiple features with intuitive operation.
  • Small and sleek – it is simplicity redefined. Effortless to carry in a shirt pocket or around the neck – literally anywhere.
  • Arclight is a: Solar LED, bulb and battery replacement free instrument; for developing countries and as a superb portable backup or training tool.
  • Super for making instant on-the-spot decisions.

An ophthalmoscope and loupe are essential to diagnose nearly all eye conditions. An otoscope is needed to view the ear canal and tympanic membrane. The direct ophthalmoscope is superior to that of the indirect ophthalmoscope for diagnosing cataract which makes up ~50% of blindness and partial sight in much of the world. For learning how to diagnose the early signs of trachoma and vitamin A deficiency: a magnifying loupe and light source are vital.

Ideally every medical, optometry, nursing student or health worker should have access to or actually possess an ophthalmoscope and an otoscope. The availability of instrumentation is vital, otherwise large parts of training courses tend to be of little long term value. The affordable easy-to-use Arclight™ is a simple, fresh solution to a set of problems.


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