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EyeCatra: Eliminating Preventable Blindness via Eyetests

IDEAS Competition & People's Choice

EyeCatra: Eliminating Preventable Blindness via Eyetests

Competition Year: 2011

Eradicate avoidable blindness through speedy detection of Cataract using a smart snap-on for mobiles, eliminating the need for any trained clinician. Its inexpensive, self-diagnostic, portable, accurate and already validated.

Health and Medical Education and Training Finance and Entrepreneurship Mobile Devices and Communications



EyeCatra Description
LV Prasad Eye Institute, INDIA testing refraction problems and cataract

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Our Pitch

Vision loss prevents millions of people from living full, independent lives. It is a key driver of illiteracy and poverty, and carries with it a significant societal stigma. Cataract is the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide. In India, 32% of avoidable blindness cases are due to cataracts. With only 1 ophthalmologist per 100,000 people, most of the cases go undetected due to lack of doctors.

Aulus Mobile introduces CATRA, a new solution from the MIT Media Lab to detect and quantify cataracts with a compact eyepiece attached to a cell phone. With no moving parts and built from off-the-shelf components, our solution is well suited for the developing world. Retrofitting ~4 billion mobile phones out there with the cost of just $4.99, CATRA enables a portable self-evaluation eye diagnostic for use at home, schools, pharmacies, retail stores, health clinics, rural eye camps, or anywhere an opthamologist is unavailable or too expensive. It has the possibility of bringing access to affordable and accurate eye diagnostics for hundreds of millions.

CATRA can reach the hands of Vision Guardians, on the lower level of L. V. Prasad Eye Institute's Eye Health Pyramid. LVPEI is one of the biggest centers for cataract surgery worldwide. Guardians are trained villagers that goes door-to-door to keep an eye on the eye health of around 5000 people.



Provide diagnostics for cataract disorders to 5000 people.

Who We Are

Rupreet Singh Soni - is a student at the MIT Sloan school of management and an Engineer in Computer Science. Rupreet has 7 years of professional experience in IT consulting and technology management. He has carried the responsibilities of Project management, Senior Onshore coordinator and Senior consultant in premiere technology companies such as Accenture consulting, Capgemini consulting etc. Role - Chief Strategy and Business development.

Erick B. Passos, M.Sc. - co-inventor – Erick has 19 years experience with programming and product design. He is also a Computer Science Professor at IFPI (Brazil), visiting researcher at the MIT Media Lab, with interest in human vision and artificial intelligence. Role - Technology

Vitor Pamplona, M.Sc. – Inventor and leading author of NETRA, Vitor is a Ph.D. student at UFRGS/Brazil who holds bachelors and masters degrees in computer science and brings five years of experience on new physiology models, unconventional imaging devices, and retinal image processing techniques for ophthalmology. Vitor works on the optical add-ons ensuring the quality and accuracy of our devices as well as in programming apps. Role - Technology

Alex Olwal, PhD – Alex Olwal is a post-doctoral fellow at the MIT Media Lab and a research scientist at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) in Stockholm. Alex's research focuses on interaction techniques, including medical user interfaces. Role – Technology Advisor

Nirmalya Banerjee - student at the System Design and Management program and co-sponsored by the MIT Sloan and the MIT School of Engineering. He is a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering and holds an MBA degree in Marketing. He has worked in a diverse set of functions ranging from Enterprise Resource Planning, Project Management, Process Consultancy and Planning Engineering. Role: Marketing and sustainable business development.

Vivin Nath - student at the System Design and Management program, co-sponsored by the MIT Sloan and the MIT School of Engineering. An Electronics engineer by training, Vivin has advanced professional experience in IT, technology management, systems engineering and automotive systems. Currently pursuing his entrepreneurial stints, Vivin also has interests in technology strategy, consulting and smart systems. Role: Strategic development

Neel Patel - Neel is an undergraduate student (3rd year) at MIT, majoring in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He is interested in building on what he has learned about the human vision in his classes and applying it to something that is beneficial in the field of medicine. He has worked in the Sasisekharan lab at HST and the Koch Institute, for the last 2 years working on computational biology projects. Role - Medical Testing Lead

Ramesh Raskar - Ramesh is the Associate Professor at MIT Media Lab and Director for CATRA research. In 2009, he was awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship. In 2010, he received the Darpa Young Faculty award. He holds over 40 US patents and has received four Mitsubishi Electric Invention Awards. Role - project mentor.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI


Kallam Anji Reddy Campus, L V Prasad Marg, Hyderabad – 500 034


LVPEI is an internationally respected eye health organization (Famous by inventing the Eye Health Pyramid) that has been working in communities in the developing world since 1987. LVPEI is one of the few institutes with an exclusive facility for visually impaired children, including newborns and infants. Its Vision Rehabilitation Centre, the first of its kind in Asia, trains children and adults with incurable low vision in the use of low-cost optical and non-optical visual aids. LVPEI is an acclaimed education center for eye care personnel at all levels - post-doctoral ophthalmology fellows and practicing ophthalmologists, as well as optometrists, ophthalmic technicians, nurses, bio-medical technicians and eye care administrators. In addition, LVPEI has initiated the development of several affordable eye care products, such as preservation medium for corneal tissues and rehabilitation devices for low vision patients. We plan to add ourselves to this growing set of affordable eye care products. In the 20 years since the Institute's establishment it has provided outpatient services to over 2 million people and surgical care to over 250,000 patients - almost 50 percent of them receiving services free of charge. In addition, LVPEI has trained over 10,000 doctors and paramedical personnel from India and abroad, and made over 1700 research presentations at national and international meetings. Their pyramid model promises both depth of eye care when needed, and reach of eye care from major cities to remote villages. This complete solution is one in which Aulus Mobile can fit seamlessly. Dr. Balasubramanian, Director of research, L. V. Prasad Eye Institute in India said - “Cell phones have reached remote villages in Asia, Latin America and Africa, making them ideal diagnostic devices. Since it is portable, we can send with the technicians to the villages and prescribe people there”.


  • Service Location
    Hyderabad, India
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Comments and Support

  • Please contact me to discuss how to connect your mobile screening tool with preventive foods and medications for preventable blindness. We are approaching the challenge from different angles. Thanks, Siva Hari Cell: 949-735-9506

    Posted by Siva Hari on Sat, Sep 1st 2012, 21:28 Report Abuse

  • nice work!

    Posted by guilherme on Tue, May 3rd 2011, 20:39 Report Abuse

  • OK!

    Posted by Rodrigo on Tue, May 3rd 2011, 17:56 Report Abuse

  • Wonderful concept. I like very much this research.

    Posted by R. Gales on Wed, Apr 27th 2011, 06:49 Report Abuse

  • Grande idéia pessoal, parabéns!.

    Posted by A. Alencar on Tue, Apr 26th 2011, 23:31 Report Abuse

  • Awsum,amazing!!

    Posted by M. Sinsinwar on Tue, Apr 26th 2011, 01:26 Report Abuse

  • Hello, This is Aakriti from the IMI team. I just want to clarify that we have no clue as to who made the negative comments about eyeCatra. We, at IMI, believe that it is an amazing project and are rooting for the team too! Moreover, we met with Professor Raskar and he likes what we are doing. We, at IMI, our inspiring students to join and start projects such as these, and I believe share similar goals. Additionally, we are hoping to show our students the power of a mobile phone through projects such as eyeCatra! The eyeCatra team have a lot more experience than we do and are also addressing a different challenge than IMI. We hope to learn and not compete with them. An important thing to remember is that we're all in this competition to drive social change. We are not competing against each other. If one were to witness our poster competitions or the other times we get together, one would realize that all the teams are working together to bring a change in the society. If we have resources that help other teams, we come forward and help them out, and vice-versa. This is definitely reflected in the way the awards are built: There is no one winner. There are several awards for all deserving teams. I hope that the message the voting system portrays is not one of competition, but one of passion for our projects. I believe every team will agree with this.

    Posted by A. Shroff on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 23:40 Report Abuse

  • I like the idea. It will help to diagnose cataract at initial satge.

    Posted by s. dewangan on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 23:05 Report Abuse

  • Concept is excellent and very innovative idea. neelanjan_ghosh

    Posted by n. ghosh on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 22:49 Report Abuse

  • I am scientist from leading scientific institute in India. I find the product is a great idea and this may lead to many new ideas and innovative products in future. Whenever you have time Pl contact me we can discuss new ideas which are coming in mind. Keep it up Also Pl do not bog out with the comment of one of the member of IMI who himself is contesting.. It seems they are not matured enough.

    Posted by b. kuntia on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 22:02 Report Abuse


    Posted by s. chavla on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 07:10 Report Abuse

  • beautiful, real good work... real good concept. Blindness is the main cause of the man's disabilities these days.. India is loosing a lot w.r.t to that... we have to move ahead.. GREAT CONCEPT.. GREAT WORK GUYS... I am the professor at IIT, DELHI. Would love to see you win.

    Posted by b. harulhju on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 06:58 Report Abuse

  • Great concept...Keep up the good work..

    Posted by B. Thantry on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 00:39 Report Abuse

  • awesome device to screen cataracts.. the comment below is a joker.. he also own IMI team hence he is abusing.. they are babies in front of you.. Your team gives a true social impact.. India has 1.2 billion population with only 10,000 eye doctors.. They need this tool so that doctors can only reply on treatment hence simplifying diagnosis. THIS IS THE BEST TEAM OF GLOBAL CHALLENGE. This is the mix of innovation.. creativity.. social impact and everything. Awesome guys all rock

    Posted by K. S on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 00:27 Report Abuse

  • Great Concept

    Posted by B. Babtiwale on Sat, Apr 23rd 2011, 11:48 Report Abuse

  • i love this

    Posted by niks on Fri, Apr 22nd 2011, 02:00 Report Abuse

  • i like this concept

    Posted by niks on Fri, Apr 22nd 2011, 01:59 Report Abuse

  • A simplenovation which has the potential to reach far flung places and create awareness amongst ordinary villagers about caratact or impending cataract though medical acceptance of results may be a long drawn process. This tool could come handy to even well to do people who lack interest in visiting the opthalmologists to evaluate glare disabilities. Glare disability evaluation is of prime imporance in our country as most people drive with Dippers ON at night time.True, something innovative needs to be done for economically weaker sections as correction sugeries and lense implants have a significant cost.

    Posted by B. Malpani on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 02:43 Report Abuse

  • All the best and keep it up for such a brilliant concept

    Posted by Upasana on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 03:28 Report Abuse

  • excellent initiative..hope u all succeed...all d best!

    Posted by N. Katoch on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 01:48 Report Abuse

  • We should seriously debate this issue around the world.

    Posted by amitesh jha on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 01:20 Report Abuse

  • It is an exceptional concept.

    Posted by j. bindra on Sun, Apr 17th 2011, 14:30 Report Abuse

  • amazing idea.keep it up.god bless u alll

    Posted by s. kaur on Fri, Apr 15th 2011, 06:24 Report Abuse

  • This is real applied research with solid theoretical background. We should be inspired by this one!

    Posted by A. Montenegro on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 09:36 Report Abuse

  • The Force is strong with this research.

    Posted by F. Franco on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 19:51 Report Abuse

  • I like this search...

    Posted by Alberto on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 10:45 Report Abuse

  • this is an innovation with an unique and helpfull thought....

    Posted by a. rajput on Sun, Apr 10th 2011, 14:48 Report Abuse

  • I seriously support an idea to have easy, convenient and affordable access to diagnose cataract. Prevention is our motto.. Cure will follow..

    Posted by P. Gupta on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 17:54 Report Abuse

  • I like,

    Posted by J. Carbonera on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 16:52 Report Abuse

  • This is science! Technology applied to social engagement!

    Posted by E. Clua on Fri, Apr 8th 2011, 10:13 Report Abuse

  • Wonderful concept will help many poor people in developing countries. Keep it up

    Posted by s. soni on Fri, Apr 8th 2011, 02:43 Report Abuse

  • I like the concept you are working on

    Posted by h. kaur on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 13:24 Report Abuse

  • Brilliant Idea !! Fantastic work and Best of Luck !!

    Posted by Nikhil Kumar on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 03:27 Report Abuse

  • Great concept, it will give more new ideas and more application will follow in the health sector.

    Posted by P. Soni on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 01:04 Report Abuse

  • Great concept will surely work!

    Posted by S. Singh on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 00:19 Report Abuse

  • Brilliant Concept!!

    Posted by Rashmi Deshmukh on Wed, Apr 6th 2011, 22:01 Report Abuse

  • Great idea!

    Posted by Andrea on Wed, Apr 6th 2011, 10:49 Report Abuse

  • This particular idea and associated technology should be given the opportunity to be realized. Early detection and diagnosis of such a disease in 3rd world countries will allow the patients to take the next step for an early treatment to improve their vision. This type of innovation should be made available to Gates and Melinda Gates foundation, responsible for providing global health programs in poor countries. In summary, this innovation can save lives in developing countries.

    Posted by Ioannis Kyratzoglou on Mon, Apr 4th 2011, 03:06 Report Abuse

  • This is a really brilliant invention. The main motive now should be to reach people who really need it .. All the best !

    Posted by Farrah on Sat, Apr 2nd 2011, 00:18 Report Abuse

  • Brilliant idea...The concept seems very helpful for the lesser privileged sections....Its a great contribution towards the society...Excellent job...Keep up the good work..

    Posted by Harleen on Sat, Apr 2nd 2011, 00:04 Report Abuse

  • This looks great guys - fantastic work.

    Posted by Matt on Sat, Apr 2nd 2011, 00:01 Report Abuse

  • comment on the below message - First of all we need to make a social impact hence we are not selling this to poor people. NGO's like LVPEI will be using our product and will send their delegates in villages to screen people. Since you dont require trained clinicians to diagnose cataract with Aulus mobile hence anybody can go to these villages and screen people. Also the screening is done within 1 min hence lots of people can be screened and operated. You can even train poor people to screen others in the village, making diagnosis recursive rather than waiting for the trained clinician to come and diagnose. I hope that answers you query. Revenue model can not be explained in just a short pitch. Do let me know what all you want to know and I would be glad to respond you. My email is

    Posted by R. Singh on Fri, Apr 1st 2011, 23:35 Report Abuse

  • All in all a good intentioned product idea. With such low penetration rates of smart phones in developing countries, (US only has @ 28%!) I wonder who the end customer and user will be and what distribution model is being envisaged. Is there a robust sustainable revenue model ? Great idea but many questions about business viability. How about addressing this a bit your pitch !

    Posted by F Wu on Fri, Apr 1st 2011, 20:22 Report Abuse

  • This seems to be a promising technology and the future of cataract testing

    Posted by Nikhilesh Banerjee on Fri, Apr 1st 2011, 19:27 Report Abuse

  • Excellent Idea.. This will have even bigger impact than NETRA... Researchers have put up a wonderful technology for the use of masses.

    Posted by Abhijit Bendale on Mon, Mar 21st 2011, 10:31 Report Abuse

  • Brilliant idea!

    Posted by Philippe Beaudoin on Mon, Mar 21st 2011, 10:25 Report Abuse

  • Wonderful concept.

    Posted by Luiz Cavalcanti on Mon, Mar 21st 2011, 10:21 Report Abuse

  • This is a revolutionary idea! In my opinion, this is going to bring to key change in the market dynamics: 1.Quicker and Cheaper the diagnosis, better the treatment 2.Enormous amount of time, energy and money savings. Best of luck to the team to win the grand final.

    Posted by K. Babu on Sun, Mar 13th 2011, 01:20 Report Abuse

  • This sounds like brilliant concept.Nice thought process of marriage between disease detection process and mobile technology. Wish you all the best !

    Posted by Apoorva Dangore on Fri, Mar 11th 2011, 04:38 Report Abuse

  • Nice idea... however actual Cataracts surgery cost from Rs 8000(villages if there are doctors) to 35000(Mumbai) depending on various cities..... detection will actually help in reducing the blindness. Would love to see some how surgery cost go down too ... Good luck sheby

    Posted by Yogesh Khandelwal on Wed, Mar 9th 2011, 12:11 Report Abuse

  • I like this concept...

    Posted by Pankaj on Wed, Mar 9th 2011, 08:48 Report Abuse

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