Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary 1. Opticent Health is a medical device start-up company that provides noninvasive retinal-imaging tools for the diagnosis, management and treatment of numerous chronic diseases. Developed by prominent Northwestern University engineering professors, this patent pending technology improves upon optical coherence tomography (OCT), a standard-of-care imaging tool already widely adopted in ophthalmology, by adding functionality that enhances the existing capabilities of OCT in ophthalmology and significantly expands its potential use for the early detection of other large market diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease. More than 21 million Americans and 285 million people worldwide are either legally blind or with low vision. While 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured, ophthalmologists presently lack adequate resources to make timely diagnoses and decisions regarding treatment. Opticent Health’s initial target market is ophthalmology, with the goals of helping clinicians make earlier diagnoses, improve disease management, and better monitor longitudinal disease progression. Additionally, Opticent Health’s technology can be used to assess choice and evaluate the efficacy of various ophthalmic drugs either currently used or in development. 2. Intellectual Merits The key merit of the proposed innovation comes from the fact that our device improves clinicians’ diagnostic and treatment capabilities by providing functional in addition to structural information regarding the retina. Two major inadequacies arise from the lack of functional information in current OCT devices: (1) Clinicians must rely on a discernible structural abnormality from imaging in order to detect disease, which oftentimes comes once the disease is already advanced and more difficult to treat, and (2) not all diseases manifest through structural changes, with some causing metabolic dysfunction instead. We provide an elegant solution to address these two issues. Our novel OCT device provides label-free angiography down to retinal capillaries, based on contrast provided by blood absorption. Additionally, it provides retinal metabolic rate: this is a novel feature amongst OCT devices. As a result, our solution gives clinicians a single modality yielding dynamic and functional information about retinal blood flow, oxygen delivery and extraction, and retinal metabolic rate. This data will be quantitative and can provide clinicians a novel marker of patient health to monitor longitudinally in time. Ultimately, our goal will be to use this information to predict systemic disease, such as microvascular complications of diabetes including nephropathy. 3. Broader Impacts The broader impacts of our technology are two fold. First, OCT is an exciting imaging modality that is being broadly researched and applied to variety of indications. This technology greatly expands where and how OCT can be used in imaging various areas of the body. Adding functional imaging greatly expands the potential for this method, for applications and the number of different diseases that can be detected. Additionally, this technology represents an addition to a growing body of relatively cheap, non invasive imaging tools that have the potential to reduce overall health care costs in the US. As reimbursements steadily decrease and hospitals and managed health care providers look for ways to reduce healthcare expenditures, technologies such as ours have the potential to improve patient care at the fraction of exis
Effective start/end date2/1/157/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (IIP-1507501)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.