D-Eye raises $1.6M for a smartphone-based retinal imaging system

By Aditi Pai

D-Eye, a smartphone-based retinal imaging system, has raised $1.68 million (1.5 euros) from Innogest, Invitalia Ventures, Giuseppe e Annamaria Cottino Foundation, and Si14. 

The product was first conceived in Padua, Italy, by Dr. Andrea Russo, an ophthalmologist, when he was examining his patients. D-Eye CEO Rick Sill told MobiHealthNews that Russo got the idea when he was with a patient one day and his phone rang.

“He looked at the smartphone and said ‘I wonder if it would be possible to use the smartphone as a digital ophthalmoscope because now I could actually capture images using the smartphone. Then I’d be able to transmit those images to other doctors to view if they were so interested,’” Sill explained in an interview. “He went out and bought himself a 3D printer and started cranking out ideas for attaching a lens on top of a smartphone that would allow him to do just that, to image the retina.”

Russo partnered with a Padua-based engineering services company, Si14, one of D-Eye’s investors to develop the product. D-Eye launched to the public in May 2015.

The company, which now has offices in Italy and California, offers a peripheral device that hooks onto iPhones or Samsung smartphones and allows providers to conduct eye screenings. The peripheral device, syncs with a companion app and uses the LED light from the smartphone to take a high definition pictures and videos of the retina. The device costs $435.

D-Eye helps physicians diagnose a number of different eye conditions, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, blood vessel abnormalities, possible hemorrhages, optic disorders, neuritis, and hypertensive retinopathy. The product can also be used on a variety of animals, like dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and falcons.

Sill said that D-Eye will use the new funds to bring brand awareness to the product. While D-Eye is currently getting interest from a number of healthcare professionals, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, pediatricians, and neurologists, D-Eye’s eventual goal is to get general practitioners, nurse practitioners, and emergency medical technicians, especially those working in emergency rooms in hospitals, to use D-Eye as well. 

“The real mission of our company is to help the 300 million people around the world who suffer from vision loss — and that’s mostly because they haven’t been seen by anybody because they live in rural, remote areas and they can’t get to a doctor — with the power of a smartphone,” Sill said.

The company is also beta testing a cloud-based storage service, called the D-Eye Image Vault. Pictures and videos taken with the device will be sent to D-Eye Image Vault, which is powered by TreVia Digital Health. The images can be further evaluated there if needed.