Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, neglected tropical disease (NTD) experts like Dr. Jeremiah Ngondi have been focused on how to keep people safe while continuing efforts to eliminate NTDs.
This balance is particularly tricky when it comes to trachoma surveys. During a survey, trained professionals flip the eyelids of individuals to look for signs of the disease—an activity that requires reasonably close face-to-face interaction.
Now, a simple innovation has the potential to have a big impact on the global fight against trachoma, an NTD that can cause significant pain and lead to blindness.
Merging Protective Face Shields with Loupes
Dr. Ngondi’s wife is a nurse, and when he noticed her protective face shield in the back of the car, he had an idea. He started working in his garage to merge the face shield with his Optivisor loupes, a pair of magnifying glasses that surveyors use to examine eyes for trachoma.
“I used my DIY (do it yourself) skills,” says Dr. Ngondi. “I wanted to do it in the simplest way, with a design that wouldn’t fall apart and with materials that could be bought from a supermarket.”
“The magnifying glasses are really the most important part,” he continues. “We don’t want the plastic visor to be in front or behind, but to leave the visual axis completely clear.”
After consulting with his colleagues on USAID’s Act to End NTDs | East program, Dr. Ngondi settled on a design that integrated a standard transparent face shield with the Optivisor loupes—mounting and fixing the loupes directly into the shield. The detailed instruction for fabrication and assembly of the integrated loupes-face shield can be found here.