The medtech startup, has built a webapplication which can analyze and screen images of the eye’s retina to find diseases. The focus is on diabetic retinopathy (DR), which is complication caused by Diabetes. The illness is especially cruel, as patients rarely ever notice symptoms before the state of the disease is very advances and because it can lead to total blindness.
Early screening and diagnosis is therefore important to treat the illness in time.
Using tech to help early
The original algorithm was developed by a joint venture in the beginning of the 2000’s, with Novo as one of the backers. The initial projekt had ophthalmologists as the target group, but it did never succeed. Since then a lot has happened, the software has been significantly developed, and the focus has been on opticians as users.
“We have further developed the software, so it runs in the cloud and is far more user-friendly.” says Robert Birch, CEO
Now they have announced a collaboration with Profil Optik. The opiticians can use the software to detect lesions and anomalies in the retina-images. This means that patients with no anomalies can get a result immediately, while patients who have anomalies will have their images manually screened before being referred to their own ophthalmologist for a final diagnosis and treatment. All Profil Optik’s opticians have completed an educational workshop program and have been certified in the use of the software and in communicating the results to the customer.
“We have already found a lot of people who were suffering from severe, as well as life-threatening, retinal conditions, without knowing about it themselves, by using this method.” says Robert
The global potential is enormous as the number of diabetics in the world, who all have the risk of getting DR, is expected to double in the next 10 years.
“This is scary compared to the 2% expected growth in number of ophthalmologists, who normally perform the screening. Opticians can help to mass-screen and refer the diabetics in risk, as well as the many undiagnosed diabetics, by offering the RetinaLyze-screening as a part of a general eye-test.” says Robert
The economic potential for the society is also huge, since almost 75 percent of all diabetes-related expenses are spent on the treatment of the complications arising from diabetes, while only 25 percent of the budget is spent on treatment of diabetes.
“Even though we are a small team consisting of very different people, we have created a product which works and which the customers are happy to pay for.” says Robert
The startup has a franschise concept in place in France, Austria, Spain and Schweiz, in a way to expand the markets and understand the needs in different countries. Besides that, the startup is currently testing their software in Mexico and China, with Kenya and Saudi Arabia soon to be a part of that as well.
“We are seeing interest from the optician industry in South Europe, Asia and Africa, so our focus is currently on the global market.” says Robert.