The overall goal of the proposed SBIR Phase I research is to build and begin initial evaluation of a low cost, portable retinal camera used to detect age-related macular degeneration and other retinal degenerations. Age-related macular degeneration remains the most common cause of permanent vision loss in the US and industrialized countries. The specialized imaging techniques provide far better detection of key lesions, compared to color fundus photography, and even this basic technology is not available for all patients. New treatments do save sight, using portable lasers and injectable drugs, but elderly patients must often travel to centers because the expensive diagnostic equipment is not readily available. Early detection must lead seamlessly from a patient's eye care provider to vision-saving treatment and must be available to the underserved and those who do not drive. Aeon Imaging LLC, in partnership with the Indiana University School of Optometry, is addressing the public health challenge of providing eyecare to the elderly and underserved by developing cost-effective cameras that are readily used with internet-based telemedicine platforms. In this new proposal, Aeon seeks to optimize its low cost and portable technology based on digital light projection for use in older eyes that have small pupils and potentially poor quality ocular media. Aeon's new camera provides high contrast, confocal views of the retina in natural appearing red/green color images, or monochrome in either red or green, avoiding blue light. Near infrared illumination will be added. Both scattered light imaging and fundus autofluorescence imaging, will be added as advanced features. These techniques enhance the visualization of features beneath the retina, without the need for injection of dye. The compact and lightweight, microprocessor controlled, internet ready camera is detachable from a standard slit- lamp style alignment base for ease of transport. The projected price is well below competing products, with image contrast anticipated to be unparalleled in the low cost camera field. The high contrast and sharp images are due to the patented method using sequential presentation of strips of light and the confocal aperture afforded by the rolling shutter of the CMOS detector chip. Data will be automatically encrypted and uploaded to secure servers for review and referral recommendations. The aging of population, together with the changes in the US health care system, make the need for lower cost but high quality products an urgent one. Thus, screening for symptoms of age-related macular degeneration that have recently been treated more successfully, along with providing early detection so that those patients needing monitoring can receive priority, lead to improved vision for the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the US.
Aeon Imaging, LLC, will build and test a low cost and portable retinal camera that uses novel technology based on digital light projection, to provide detection of age-related macular degeneration. Advanced imaging techniques, including scattered light imaging and fundus auto fluorescence imaging, will be implemented in a design optimized for the eyes of older patients. The novel camera has a design that provides high contrast images with a cost and footprint aimed at reducing barriers to early diagnosis and careful monitoring.