Netra-G Smartphone Accessory Set to Replace the Optometrist?

By September 25, 2013 1 comment
L'ophtalmologie pourrait être bouleversée par cette innovation

US-based startup EyeNetra has developed a device, the Netra-G adaptor which, when snapped on to your smartphone, can assess your vision without the need to go through a professional practitioner.

Could the ophthalmic optician’s job soon be obsolete? This is what the Massachusetts-based startup EyeNetra seems to be working towards. The company has developed a number of prototypes with the aim of enabling any and every person to measure his/her own vision. The stakes are high: the Netra-G could shake up a market which is worth €56 billion worldwide. All you have to do is to snap the device on to your smartphone and it does the same job as the autorefractors which are at present in use in ophthalmology. This equipment currently represents a very large investment both for medical practitioners and for the health sector in general.

Cutting down on consultations?

The device works in the following way. The user places his/her eye in a viewfinder and spins a dial to align the lines which appear on the screen of his/her smartphone. The software then analyses the user’s vision on the basis of the alignment deviations which it detects. Once launched in the United States, the startup could give the 40,000 ophthalmologists practising there some cause to worry that the number of consultations for which they are paid will fall noticeably. Explains Vitor Pamplona, co-founder and CTO of EyeNetra, who is a trained programmer: “We’re changing medicine by providing the user with the right to measure themselves,” adding: “We see doctors as more of a coach.” Such a development would certainly help to reduce the cost of doctors’ fees, which represent around 20% of total US health costs overall, and account for close to 3% of US GDP.

Non-US market?

However, it seems likely that whatever happens, consultations with practitioners will remain indispensable, at least for more complex eye problems. In fact the manufacture of lenses for glasses is in any case not based solely on the refraction of the eye, which is the only parameter measured by Netra-G. In order to avoid concerns in the United States, the company has been carrying out its testing in India, where it may well prove easier to find a market. It is estimated that around 133 million people in India are blind or cannot see well because they are unable to have an ophthalmic examination or obtain vision aids. 

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1 Comment

Thank you for your post Timothee. We are interested in empowering both consumers and eye care professionals by getting more people tested and linking them to quality care through the mobile network. The role of the eye care professional moving forward will be to help guide consumers through what their test results mean and help them choose what care path makes the most sense unique to that user. Its our aim to connect consumers to doctors, not have them avoid them. Its something that folks like my father, a 30+ year OD veteran of NYC are already doing a great job at.

India is a place that has a huge need for eyecare, and we are fundamentally driven by helping people. Actually over 300m people have uncorrected refractive error in India! Its such a great opportunity to make an impact and we are excited to be there. At the same time, we are 100% committed to following all regulatory guidelines and rules as we move towards the market -- this is very important to us.

Submitted by David Schafran, Cofounder + COO of EyeNetra (not verified) - on September 26, 2013 at 05:29 pm

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