The “What’s the Future@OIS” session at OIS@ASCRS 2016 showcased five novel innovations in ophthalmology that are difficult to place into any existing categories of ophthalmic devices and drugs. Here’s a quick look at them.
Depressurizing goggles for glaucoma. Equinox is developing the Balance Goggles, which create a small vacuum on the eyes for people with glaucoma. Founder and CEO John Berdahl, MD, said the concept is to balance the pressure within the eye with that of the surrounding cranium to prevent optic nerve cupping, the telltale sign of late-stage glaucoma. “If IOP [intraocular pressure] is high and intracranial pressure is low, a pressure differential is created across the optic nerve, the nerve cups backwards, and glaucoma ensues,” he said. The idea came to him while scuba diving. Despite the entire body being subjected to pressure of 760 mmHg – compared with 12–15 mmHg in the normal eye – at a depth of 30 feet, scuba divers do not develop glaucoma. The reason: “No new pressure differentials are created,” Dr. Berdahl said. The Balance Goggles aim to correct pressure differentials between the eye and the cranium.
Inkjet-inspired eyedropper alternative. Eyenovia has developed a small torpedo-looking device that uses the principles of inkjet printing to apply topical drugs to the ocular surface, Director Curt LaBelle, MD, said. The device has a button and an illuminated spray hole on its face and uses piezo-electric technology to “print” drugs onto the eye, delivering doses of less than 10 microliters. The device also puts a charge into the agent so it adheres to the cornea. Eyenovia plans to submit an Investigational New Drug application to the FDA this summer for short endpoint phenylephrine studies and is planning late-stage glaucoma studies for 2017, Dr. LaBelle said. The company hopes to bring both therapies to market in 2019.
Vision prosthesis without an implant. The BrainPort V100 from Wicab Inc. is a prosthetic device for the profoundly blind that relays visual information via a neuro-stimulating array on the tongue. President and CEO Robert Beckman explained the tongue array contains 400 electrodes that receive signals from a streaming video camera mounted on a pair of glasses. The electrodes stimulate the tongue to round out the mental image the blind use to interact with their surroundings. The BrainPort V100 received FDA de novo clearance as a novel device as well as the CE mark. Wicab is pursuing reimbursement in the US, France, and China, Beckman said. The device costs about 10% of existing retinal implants, he added.
Presbyopia-correcting eyedrop. Presbyopia Therapies LLC is developing an eyedrop that can temporarily correct presbyopia for up to six hours, company co-founder Jim McCollum said. The Liquid Vision drop is a patented combination of the miotic agent aceclidine and the cyclopegic tropicamide. The combination creates a miotic effect without distance blur or ciliary spasm. Liquid Vision is in Phase IIB trials and the company hopes to have data collection completed in 2017.
Eye color-changing procedure. Strōma Medical is investigating a procedure that changes eye color from brown to blue. The procedure takes less than one minute per eye and uses a laser-based, eye-tracking system, driven by proprietary software, to disrupt the brown anterior stromal pigment that covers the anterior iris, CEO Doug Daniels said. This induces a macrophagic process that removes the pigment within four weeks. An adaptive trial that involves treating a one-eighth sector at the superior iris should be completed in early summer, he said.
Gilbert H. Kliman, MD
Dr. Gil Kliman leads the medical device investment team at InterWest Partners and invests in a broad array of healthcare opportunities, with a special interest in ophthalmology and digital health.