Epipole has secured £1.5 million in funding to market its ground-breaking video retinal imaging device in the US. The funding round was led by new investor Greenwood Way Capital with the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, also participating.
Epipole also announced the appointment of medical technology veteran Ian Stevens as chairman.
Epipole’s patented technology enables clinicians to scan the retina using real-time video and then extract high quality images for further examination. They are smaller and less expensive than conventional desktop systems.
Dr Craig Robertson, founder and CEO of Epipole, said: “We’ve worked with ophthalmologists to test and refine features and capabilities, and will use this funding to implement the key changes needed”.
“We will have a particular focus on the US primary care optometry and ophthalmology markets, and plan to have product available by early 2021.”
“I am pleased to welcome Ian Stevens as chairman,” added Robertson. “His broad commercial experience and specific expertise in retinal imaging will be valuable to us as we introduce our products to the eyecare market.”
Stevens is an experienced technology industry executive, holding CEO positions at Scottish businesses Touch Bionics, Mpathy Medical and BioFilm. Previously, he spent nine years at leading retinal imaging company Optos, initially as CFO and then as General Manager of its North American business.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for handheld and truly portable fundus cameras that are easy to use and combine high quality imaging with attractive pricing,” said Stevens.
“I am delighted to join the company and look forward to working with Craig and his team as we seek to transform ophthalmic imaging with our new technology.”
Epipole were selected as one of the five finalists in Novartis’ Biome 2019 Ophthalmology Innovation Challenge in their San Francisco Biome headquarters.
Among stiff competition from companies that presented their deeply innovative technology the six American Academy of Ophthalmology judges were unanimous in awarding Epipole with the first prize of $6000. After a standing ovation one of the judges commented “Every GP in America should own your technology.”
Maybe one day they will.
Systemic diseases and congenital conditions can often have a component that affects the eyes in one or more ways. An ocular examination and awareness of these associations can aid in the diagnosis and management of the underlying disease. Below is a list of some conditions which can affect the eye.
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Connective tissue disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Behçet’s disease
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Reactive arthritis
- Crohn’s disease.
- Ulcerative colitis.
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Systemic sclerosis:
- Giant cell arteritis
- Polyarteritis nodosa
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Cicatricial pemphigoid
- Fungal infections of the eye
- Cat scratch disease
- Lyme disease
- Down’s syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (type 6)
- Marfan’s syndrome
- Myotonic dystrophy
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Hyperviscosity states
- Sickle cell disease
- Kearns-Sayre syndrome
- Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
- Progressive supranuclear palsy
- Sturge-Weber syndrome
- Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) syndrome
- Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis)
* This list is a compressed version of the excellent online resource to be found at: https://patient.info/doctor/eye-in-systemic-disease
epiCam is being used as part of a THET (Tropical Health and Education Trust) project in Uganda to screen for diabetic retinopathy. THET is a global health organization working with the aim of ensuring everyone has access to affordable and quality healthcare. This is done by educating, supporting and training health workers through partnerships between hospitals, colleges and clinics in the UK and those overseas.
epiCam M was selected for the work in Uganda because it is specifically tuned for diabetic retinopathy and has been designed to show vasculature in high contrast. While in use, epiCam M’s versatility immediately became evident. Being powered by laptop, tablet or phone makes epiCam M portable and suitable for use in a variety of settings such as temporary community outreach clinics used to provide screening in hard-to-reach areas.
epiCam is also in use in Tanzania as part of a University of St Andrews-Tumaini La Maisha (TLM) innovation programme to help diagnose a range of eye diseases in children in Dar es Salaam.
Tumaini La Maisha, meaning “hope for life”, is dedicated to caring for children with cancer and their families and provides both clinical and non-clinical supportive services. Their aim – to provide free and curative care for all children in Tanzania with cancer.
epiCam’s portability and robustness coupled with high quality imaging again makes it an ideal device for these settings. The ability to record and review high resolution retinal video is providing a unique way to acquire the required imaging and help improve patient compliance in younger patients.
Photos: Terry Cooper https://www.terrycooper.photography/
Epipole founder Craig Robertson discusses the history of the company and the challenges of balancing ‘doing the right thing’ with running a sustainable business in the latest edition of The Ophthalmologist.
Epipole are glad to see groups like OneSight take on preventable blindness, wherever it occurs in the world.
CINCINNATI, June 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Setting sail on June 10, OneSight announced today that 44 volunteers will travel by boat to provide vision care and produce glasses for over 2,500 indigenous Amazon River residents.
OneSight is taking their commitment to bring sight to the world, no matter how distant, to a new level. Due to the remoteness of each community, citizens along the Amazon must travel more than 24 hours to the only city that offers eye-care in the region, Manaus. To overcome this vast distance barrier, OneSight is hosting their first-ever clinic on two boats, bringing vision care to those in need and testing out new portable eye care instruments and technologies, exclusively made to work in remote environments with difficult logistics.
OneSight is partnering with two local Amazon groups, Barco Hospital Methodist Church and the Penido Burnier Foundation, to navigate across three communities – Muritinga, Cuia and Murai.
“We could not reach this indigenous population without the help of these two generous partners,” said Mony Iyer, president and executive director at OneSight. “They are going above and beyond to make this unique clinic a success by coordinating the boat and crew rental, translators and the necessary ophthalmologists.”
OneSight’s laboratory, technology and large inventory of lenses and frames will be set up on the boat, while vision consultations will be provided inland. This set up will allow for almost every patient to receive their glasses the same day. If proven successful and efficient, the instruments and technology will substantially increase OneSight’s ability to serve more people in need, without being dependent on the standard logistics process.
“We are committed to identifying solutions to reach and provide access to vision care and glasses to even the most remote communities in the world,” said Iyer. “We are honored to be able to provide much needed vision care services to the communities across the Amazon River. We know through our work in communities around the world that glasses do so much more than give clear sight – they give hope and possibility.”
OneSight launched a ‘Victory is in Sight’ campaign to raise awareness about the powerful difference a simple pair of glasses can make. In an effort to provide 20 million people with access to glasses by 2020, OneSight is scheduled to travel to 30 communities across the globe this year alone. In 2018, OneSight hosted a clinic in Antigua to benefit those impacted by Hurricane Irma. That effort, along with the upcoming clinic in the Amazon, is just the beginning of OneSight furthering its mission not just in communities that lack access but those that have had that access taken away by natural disasters.
OneSight is the leading global nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing access to an eye exam and glasses to the 1.1 billion people who have no way to get them. We have a proven model that provides permanent access to vision care and glasses and we are pioneering new ways to deliver quality vision care to the most remote communities. We believe one’s location and circumstances should not stand in the way of one’s potential. Our goal is to create a world where lack of access to vision care is no longer a barrier to human achievement, and every donation gets us one step closer to making that world a reality. For more information, visit www.onesight.org.
SynCore Biotechnology Co. Ltd. has extended its collaboration with UK-based Epipole Ltd. by endorsing a new contract to grant SynCore the Taiwanese distribution rights of veterinary use fundus camera epiCam® V. As part of the epiCam® family, the epiCam® V is a hand-held digital fundus camera designed as an aid to diagnose and manage ophthalmic diseases for household, farm, commercial, and zoo animals. Dr. Muh-Hwan Su, General Manager of SynCore, sees the initiation of SynCore’s pet business as a core evolution sign of the company.
SynCore Biotechnology Co. Ltd. (4192) signed an international contract with UK-based retinal imaging company Epipole Ltd. for the Taiwanese distribution rights of fundus cameras epiCam® M and epiCam® C. Epipole will provide the devices and equip SynCore with the necessary materials for the successful market approval and commercialization of these products. Consequently Taiwan will become the first country in Asia to provide products from the epiCam® family. The epiCam® products are hand-held digital fundus cameras designed as an aid to diagnosis and management of ophthalmic diseases. Extremely lightweight, with no battery to charge, they include the particular feature of capturing pictures or extracting them later from the recorded retinal videos. Both epiCam® M and epiCam® C are included in the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) Standard List of curated quality eye care equipment.
Craig Robertson, CEO of Epipole Ltd stated that he is delighted to be working with Syncore Bio introducing the epiCam® technology into Taiwan to reduce avoidable blindness.
General Manager of SynCore, Dr. Muh-Hwan Su expressed high excitement in the collaboration towards adding the epiCam® products to SynCore’s ophthalmic devices group.
Epipole are delighted to announce version 3.0.1 of their epiCam V software, available free to all current and new customers. This release incorporates many customer suggestions and feedback.
The new version can be downloaded here.
As well as offering high resolution image capture and video recording, the latest software now provides many new features:
- An integrated patient database to easily link patients with captured images and video
- New review capability to quickly view images and videos with adjustments for contrast, gamma and brightness settings.
- The ability to playback epiCam V videos and extract the best still frames.
- An ‘enhance’ function where Epipole algorithms automatically optimise the gamma, gain and brightness settings to aid video and image analysis.
- An ‘export’ function to save images to file for referral, case study or further review.
- Improved foot pedal functionality – now use a single foot pedal to capture images and record video.
- A range of time saving keyboard shortcuts.
Learn more about the epiCam V at epipole.com/epicam-v
Need help? Contact email@example.com or call +44 (0) 7434 114 722
We’ve been asked a lot recently about the environmental impact of epiCam.
The three core principles of good design for the environment are to reduce, reuse, recycle. In that order.
- Reduce: use as little energy and material as possible.
- Reuse: extend the life of the product as long as possible.
- Recycle: only when you have no other option do you send materials for reprocessing
In designing epiCam, we integrated thought for the environmental impact of the device right into the original concept.
- epiCam is constructed from very few parts. This is why it’s so small, affordable and robust. We operate a local, lean manufacturing process with near zero waste, and ship with the minimum of packaging. We use a standard USB interface and your own, existing laptop.
- It’s designed to be tough and last a very long time – the illumination is good for over 10,000 hours. If and when devices are returned to us, we reuse as many components as possible (subject to strict cleaning and quality rules).
- The whole device can be disassembled (don’t try this at home – it’ll void your warranty!) and we don’t use co-moulded plastics. Parts can be separated and recycled, from the ABS shell to the glass lenses and aluminium lens carriers. The electronics are RoHS-compliant.
We hope that gives you confidence in epiCam’s environmental credentials.
According to UN figures, 5 billion people live in the so-called developing nations. Many of this enormous number of people suffer from inherent poverty and all of the knock-on effects and complications that it brings. As one stark example, healthcare expenditure in developing nations is less than 1/10th of that of the developed ones.
The WHO also tells us that 70% of imported medical equipment going into developing world hospitals simply does not work when it arrives.
Clearly, designing anything for use in that market brings with it a multitude of new and extra complex design constraints. For example:
- 20% of people in the developing world are illiterate, so training may have to be one-on-one
- Clinicians are often competing with traditional medicine, and there may also cultural issues around touching and proximity to patients
- 95% of equipment in use is imported and often of poor quality. Repair or replacement must be given as an option for any new equipment, new equipment must be of high clinical utility.
- There are often no spare parts available or they are so expensive that they are never purchased. Equipment should be robust and guaranteed to function for a long time without maintenance.
- Consumables are difficult or impossible to find. No need for consumables would be ideal.
- There may be a lack of reliable power and water, so some battery-based functionality or rechargeable equipment is ideal.
Whilst incoming or local clinicians can adapt to these circumstances by changing the way they work, engineers are always at arms length so have to change the way that they design equipment in the first place. The key is thus no longer on functionality coupled with a marketable design aesthetic, it is now firmly around quality, utility and longevity.
The epiCam family meet the challenges of developing world engagement through hardware and software design. The construction has been simplified over years to reduce the part count to an absolute minimum; fewer parts always means fewer chances to fail.
- The main electrical components, for example, are the sensor board (which protects itself from overheating in high temperature environments) and the illumination (which has an in-use lifetime of many tens of thousands of hours) and these are designed and selected to be phenomenally robust.
- The outer case is made from a plastic that is very similar in formulation to your car bumper, except that it is also designed to screen out infrared. It is fantastically tough.
- The lenses are housed in metal chassis, both for their protection and so that even after being dropped they will stay in alignment. After drop tests onto concrete the device continues to work as normal – and you can see that test in the video below.
Software has been designed for a maximum deployment speed. We know that in a developing world operation patients need to be processed as quickly as possible, so the pathway through the software from start to end is optimized specifically for that situation. Image and video review can be more studied and we have enabled a range of new tools to make that easier, including enhancement and stills-from-video, another truly groundbreaking aspect of epiCam.
And epiCam plugs straight into your favourite device, drawing a tiny amount of power, allowing you to get to the patients wherever they are. There are no consumables and no further fees to pay.
We believe that failure in developing world situations should not be tolerated. If one of our in-warranty devices malfunctions in the field we will replace it as soon as feasible with a new device, it’s that simple.
Epipole are delighted to be included in the IAPB Standard List, a curated catalogue of high quality eye care equipment for cost-conscious buyers.
About the IAPB Standard List
The Standard List is a great platform to source and compare eye health products and technologies – loupes, lasers or land cruisers.
The new, revamped IAPB Standard List is aimed at eye care professionals who are trying to identify and purchase high quality eye care equipment at the right price.
By ranking and scoring them on a variety of criteria, the List provides a carefully evaluated range of technologies from trusted suppliers. All the products listed score well against our assessment criteria and are worthy of consideration when deciding which product to purchase.
The List recommends essential eye health equipment for those on a limited budget. It also includes guidance on what you need to know to procure and maintain eye health equipment, instruments, drugs and consumables.
About the IAPB
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is an alliance of civil society organisations, corporates and professional bodies promoting eye health through advocacy, knowledge and partnerships. IAPB aims to achieve ‘Universal Eye Health’, by maximising our members’ impact and promoting eye care knowledge.