August 5, 2011 in ATDC News

Startup Chronicles: DigitalVision

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If Keith Thompson and Jose Garcia of Atlanta-based DigitalVision LLC have their way, those clunky optical devices commonly used by eye doctors to test patient vision will soon go the way of the dinosaur.

The duo is hard at work on the development of a new instrument – called the VisionOptimizer – that will use more accurate vision measurements to create a new generation of eyeglasses providing patients with better vision and wearing comfort.

“Clinical studies show that 90 percent of the population could benefit from optimized vision,” said Thompson, CEO of DigitalVision, who drew on his years of experience as a surgeon and ophthalmologist to develop the device. “Our intent is to have this system replace the old phoropter and eye chart and give doctors access to modern, digitally-controlled technology they can use to provide their patients with eyeglasses that improve vision and wearing comfort over eyeglasses prescribed by the existing error-prone methods.”

For nearly a century, eye doctors have prescribed glasses and contact lenses using measurements obtained with the phoropter. Due to instrument limitations, however, the resulting prescription eyeglasses often fail to optimize eyesight and wearing comfort. With the VisionOptimizer, a patient will sit in an exam chair and look at interactive images in a telescope-grade mirror while the technology measures the amount of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The prescription will then be transmitted electronically to an optical laboratory that will custom-manufacture eyeglasses to the exact specification that the patient requires.

“Instead of presenting you with the old black and white chart with letters, the VisionOptimizer exam will be more like a modern video game,” said Garcia, the company’s Chief Technology Officer. “Patients will be able to preview how much better their vision could be (with an improved prescription) by viewing real images like road signs, gas station prices, and billboards. It will be very a very entertaining solution to the deficient methods now employed to correct vision.”

Armed with seed funding from the Georgia Research Alliance and backed by R&D assistance from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, DigitalVision hopes to have a prototype system ready for beta testing this winter. Pending regulatory approval, eye doctors may be able to purchase the new system in about a year. In addition, Garcia and Thompson plan to tap into ATDC resources and programs to help further the startup’s growth.

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