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The goal of eye care is not just to keep the eye healthy, but also to maintain or improve vision to as much as possible. Patients with low vision often need help to accomplish normal tasks of daily living. To this end, there is a wide variety of medical device technology, both available and in the pipeline, aimed at improving vision. From continuing work on bionic eye modalities to wearable devices, these options present opportunities for patients with limited visual acuity.
TO THE POINT
A wearable device could restore functional vision for those with low vision, allowing them improved quality of life.
eSight electronic spectacles (eSight) were designed to help low-visibility patients function in daily life in a noninvasive and nonsurgical way. The headset allows the wearer to control elements such as autofocus, brightness, magnification, and contrast enhancement. eSight works for the overwhelming majority of those living with vision loss, and a patient need only try it on to determine if it works for them.
eSight engineers focused on three key components: optics, user adjustability, and low latency.
Without stellar optics, headset technology for visual impairments simply wouldn’t be viable. Because many legally blind patients have limited central vision, but otherwise functional peripheral vision, the ability to adjust the headset allows users to still use their remaining sight.
The technology uses a high-definition camera and screen, and thus low latency was essential to ensure that the information is as close to real-time as possible. Low latency was key in allowing users to function as they normally would. Without it, patients could become disoriented, and potentially experience nausea and imbalance.
CLINICAL AND FINANCIAL POSSIBILITIES
Preliminary data from a recent study of the functional efficacy of the headset were presented in May. The data demonstrated a 7-line improvement in visual acuity.1 Ongoing studies are assessing the utility of the headset for musicians, and another is evaluating the technology’s net cost savings potential within the health care industry.
Research on cost savings and pricing speaks to a basic human right: the right to see. We know that those living with vision loss live in a socioeconomically disadvantaged situation; while we try to make eSight more affordable as a device, we also are inspired by institutions who are providing this technology for their legally blind constituents (employees, students, etc.). By studying the cost of legal blindness and the benefits of a technology such as eSight on society as a whole, we are confident that we will illustrate a compelling case for increased coverage of and reimbursement for noninvasive technologies such as ours.
Due to the noninvasive nature of eSight, there are no clinical risks or side effects. Users will know whether it works for them after they have tried it, so the personal and financial risks are also limited. The opportunity for a previously dependent community to be able to function again, however, could change lives.
1. Wittch W. eQUEST: The eSight Quality of Life and Efficacy Study. Paper presented at: Assocation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology 2017 Annual Meeting; May 7-11, 2017; Baltimore, MD.
Brian Mech, PhD, MBA
• President and CEO, eSight