“I see a great potential for this product. The future is telemedicine and this device is right on track”
— Dr. Lama Al-Aswad, Glaucoma Specialist, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, CUMC, New York
The SFU Student Social Innovation Fund, a collaboration between RADIUS and Embark, provides project funding of up to $1000. The next funding deadline is May 17th – apply here! Below, we get an update from Ophthalight Digital Solutions, a project team funded earlier this year.
Entrepreneurs want to change the world. They are passionate about their ideas and want to share them with everyone. However, making a sustainable solution to address health-related issues takes more than passion. It requires rigorous research and analysis before a product can be presented as a viable solution. RADIUS and Embark’s Social Innovation Seed Fund has provided us with the opportunity to not only develop our technology, but also validate its social effects through product testing and interviews with experienced eye care practitioners and researchers.
Our team, Ophthalight Digital Solutions, built an O-Glass prototype, which automates some of the common eye tests and performs them with high accuracy and speed. The current device is capable of automatically performing the Swinging Flashlight Test, which is conducted by all optometrists and ophthalmologists. This simple test determines if there are any damages to the optic nerve that can result from various diseases such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, head trauma, and brain tumors.
Ideally, the swinging flashlight test should be performed by an experienced practitioner and in a dark room, while there is enough light for the doctor to see the eyes. Current diagnostic testing is completed manually and analyzed subjectively, making results difficult to interpret unless the patient has a severe and detectable condition. O-Glass performs the swinging flashlight test for the health care practitioner following the standard procedure based on the known guidelines and with a very high accuracy. Results are analyzed by computerized software, making the results objective and repeatable. Overall the quality of this simple, but yet very important, test is improved by having better diagnostic accuracy, as well as documenting the test results for future follow-ups.
During the past couples of months our engineering team has worked tirelessly to develop the hardware for this product, and we are currently working to complete the associated software to finish the device. The prototype will be ready for clinical trials in a month.
Before performing the clinical trials and assessing the efficacy of the new technology, we interviewed more than 60 doctors to see what they think about this new technology, how they predict it will impact their current practice, and how we can improve the technology to increase its usability.
“O-Glass helps me in my practice to easily and precisely detect subtle ocular abnormalities and lets me provide patients with [the] highest quality of care as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
— Dr. Siamak Z. Ghanavati, FICO, Board Member, International Council of Ophthalmology
Among the discussions we had with key opinion leaders in the field of eye-care, we received much interest and feedback regarding add-on features for the O-Glass. The use of the device in telemedicine was one of the main topics of discussion. As the device performs the tests and transmits the results wirelessly to a cloud-based software, it can be easily used in remote areas or under-developed countries in which access to eye care professionals is limited and eye tests are typically performed by nurses. Using O-Glass, the care provider can easily send the test results to an experienced ophthalmologist and receive feedback in real time.
Throughout our interviews, many optometrists and ophthalmologists have expressed interest in testing the O-Glass in their clinics, as they are sure that performing the swinging flashlight test automatically will enhance the test’s accuracy and result in early detection of many diseases, eventually improving the quality of eye care and reducing eye care costs to our health system. During the next few months, we will fine-tune the O-Glass and obtain regulatory and ethics approval to continue our work. During the summer, O-Glass will be used by a couple of doctors in their daily practice as a diagnostic tool. During this trial we plan to demonstrate the positive results of using O-Glass in early stage diagnosis of diseases such as multiple sclerosis and brain tumor as well as follow-up to monitor the progression of certain diseases such as glaucoma and head traumas.
Overall, we have received great feedback and interest from doctors, which has motivated us to improve our prototype and offer it to doctors as soon as possible. With the necessary rigorous research and clinical trials, O-Glass may become a social innovation in telemedicine by facilitating access to diagnostic eye testing in rural and remote settings, resulting in early eye disease detection and attentive medical monitoring of eye diseases. The O-Glass will help doctors support patients in hard-to-reach settings.