People with diabetes can go blind if they don’t get their eyes checked. A local startup has technology that could make it easier to get an exam.
And as the company progresses, the Vasoptic Medical team thinks moving from Columbia to Baltimore city will provide distinct advantages.
Vasoptic, the makers of a device that checks diabetes patients for an eye condition, will be housed in the same building as Mindgrub Technologies.
The startup is developing a device that eliminates the need for diabetes patients to go to an eye doctor to get their eyes checked.
That’s important, because people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, said CEO M. Jason Brooke. If the condition isn’t treated, it could cause blindness.
Vasoptic wants to make its portable, handheld technology available to primary care doctors, minute clinics and in telehealth settings that allow doctors to perform tests without an opthamologist present.
“Basically as close to the patient as possible without it being in the patients’ hand themselves,” Brooke said.
The technology uses an algorithm to analyze a picture of a patients’ retina, and figure out whether the patient has developed the condition or likelihood that they may in the future.
“We can identify the current state of the retina and compare it against diseased retinas, and indicate to the doctor and to patients the risk of visual impairment, as well as logical progression of the disease,” Brook said.
The company licensed two patents from Johns Hopkins University in 2012, and received a $650,000 federal grant to develop the technology in 2014, and has also received investment from TEDCO. The five-person team is currently waiting on a response from the FDA to find out whether they are cleared to run the company’s first clinical trial.
In the meantime, Vasoptic is moving locations. By August, Brooke expects Vasoptic to be in a building near McHenry Row in Locust Point within Mindgrub Technologies’ new offices.
Brooke said the move from Columbia will allow the company to be closer to the University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins, where the company already has established partnerships to test the device.
“Proximity is important,” Brooke said. “Being in the city will certainly enable further development in a collaborative effort there.”
Brooke believes being closer to another growing tech company won’t hurt, either.
“From a recruiting standpoint, being in and among other companies like Mindgrub, will be really valuable for us,” he said.