The FDA recently gave clearance to Vital Art and Science Inc. (VAS) to market software which enables people with degenerative eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy to monitor their vision at home with their iPhone. The software, which is called myVisionTrack, isn't a replacement for regular visits to the doctor, but rather allows patients to keep tabs on their vision in between visits with eye care professionals.
Using a proprietary patented shape discrimination hyperacuity (SDH) test, myVisionTrack[TM] enables patients to regularly assess their vision function. The device stores test results, tracks disease progression and automatically alerts a health care provider if it suspects significant deterioration of visual function in the patient.
In the video below, VAS President Mike Bartlett -- who previously worked for many years at Texas Instruments -- demonstrates how the software works and why it's so important.
VAS notes that retinal diseases affect approximately 40 million individuals worldwide and 13 million in the United States. While treatments have been developed to deal with degenerative eye conditions, early diagnosis is of paramount importance.
Notably, the FDA clearance is only applicable when the software is run on an iPhone 4S. Consequently, the software won't be available as a general download and will only be pre-loaded onto iPhone 4S devices by the company. That said, VAS hopes that a downloadable version of the software will become available sometime in the future.
In the meantime, Bartlett is hoping that his company's software will be utilized in conjunction with clinical drug trials.
Right now we're looking for collaboration opportunities like clinical drug trials. In all of the clinical drug trials [for degenerative eye diseases], all of the data is being collected in the clinic. We want to enable them to collect data as often as hourly or daily instead of every month or so. Because of the nature of vision problems, we expect the first big deployments will be done by the drug companies.
iOS devices being used to assist the vision impaired is of course nothing new. The iPad's ability to zoom in extremely close on pictures has proven to be extremely beneficial for individuals diagnosed with macular degeneration. Furthermore, a study presented at the the American Academy of Opthalmology this past November noted that tablets with backlit screens like the iPad help individuals with degenerative eye conditions read faster and more comfortably.