Innovate UK award success to fight eye disease
Glaucoma is the world's leading cause of blindness, affecting 2-3% of adults in UK, most commonly seen in adults over 70 years old. An estimated 2 million UK residents are living with significant sight-loss, which is expected to double to 4 million by 2050. However, over 50% of sight-loss could be avoided, along with the £28billion societal-economic cost burden if detected early enough.
In the fight against eye disease, researchers from the University of Warwick have been successful in winning a grant from Innovate UKLink opens in a new window (£480k overall, of which £100k awarded to the University of Warwick) to develop a new hand-held electronic ophthalmic medical device that can be more easily used in remote locations and small community eye-disease clinics.
Leading this joint UK-Singapore collaborative R&D project are ABSPIE Lab Research Fellow Dr Davide PiaggioLink opens in a new window, ABSPIE Lab Director Professor Leandro PecchiaLink opens in a new window, Dr Damon HoadLink opens in a new window from Warwick Medical School along with technology developers from medical device companies Vivo Smart Medical Technologies and Mdesign Solutions Pte Ltd from Singapore.
The project aims to research and develop an innovative hand-held ophthalmic digital device for the accurate detection, measurement, and monitoring of potential eye-disease within seconds, performed on patients in community or healthcare settings. This technology will improve patient access to community based real-time point-of-care testing and eye-disease monitoring, a prerequisite of degenerative eye-disease monitoring.
Key to this new technology will be the combination of the innovative affordable, easy-to-use hand-held eye-imaging hardware along with AI-machine learning of complex digital images of the eye-physiology. This will enable real-time diagnostic interpretation, that is tele-ophthalmology enabled for real-time analysis.
Earlier diagnosis allows for faster treatment which improves patient outcomes especially in ageing populations or with complex comorbidities. Ophthalmology is one of the busiest specialties in the NHS, providing over 9 million outpatient appointments per year costing over £1Billion/year.
If successfully deployed it is hoped this new technology will reduce eye-care outpatient appointments, which in turn will save the NHS £millions/year by reducing unnecessary referrals and enabling better community/primary care-eye-testing.