A new eye-scanning device could help reduce the risk of blindness in millions of people with diabetes by improving the way retinopathy – the most common form of diabetic eye disease – is detected.
Retinopathy is a common long-term complication of diabetes and also a leading cause of blindness, responsible for two million cases of preventable blindness worldwide.
To help detect the early stages of retinopathy and thus prevent the disease from causing serious vision loss, researchers in Scotland have developed the first portable, high resolution camera capable of diagnosing retinopathy in diabetic patients.
Built by Rosyth-based company Epipole, the handheld device is able to spot warning signs of retinopathy, such as blood clots at the back of the eye, and provides a more practical and affordable alternative to the cameras currently available for retinal scanning, which cost upwards of £40,000 per unit.
Dr Craig Robertso, managing director and founder of Epipole, has now patented the handheld camera and software, which is expected to cost less than £1000. The prototype technology has also received major investment from newly-launched Scottish angel investors, Lancaster Capital, with a £400,000 deal agreed between the two companies.
Once on the market, Dr Robertson believes the device will revolutionise detection of diabetic retinopathy, particularly in developing nations such as India.
“In the UK we are lucky as we have gold standard healthcare, but in less developed countries this is a huge issue as it is one of the nastiest parts of the diabetes condition and leads to blindness that could easily be prevented through early-interventio,” he explained.
“We are now on target to go from an idea to reality in three years, which is exceptionally fast and wouldn’t have happened without the investment from Lancaster capital.
“It was a brave step by them to get involved and I’m extremely thankful they quickly saw the potential in this camera and were prepared to put in the investment which will allow us to move to the next level.”

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