Working to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients with diabetic retinopathy

Nearly 90 percent of people living with diabetes will eventually go blind. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by diseased vessels in the retina leaking blood components or hemorrhaging.  The affects increasingly distort vision because of scarring of the retina and, in its most advanced stage, leads to blindness. The damage is irreparable increasing the importance of early diagnosis.

The current diagnostic procedure is Fluorescein Angiography, a standard eye test performed by an ophthalmologist, who uses a special dye and camera to look at blood flow in the retina. The ophthalmologist visually reads the images and provides a diagnosis based on qualitative analysis.  The founder of Emagix, Dr. Alon Friedman together with his team, developed software that reduces the testing time while enhancing the current images and providing results that enable a quantitative analysis. The software uses an algorithm that processes multiple images to produce a single, finer grain image, which makes previously imperceptible leaks from tiny capillaries as noticeable as much larger leaks from bigger vessels.  In short, this innovation promises to reduce the subjectivity involved in reading the test results dramatically.  Additionally, this process will enable much more precise and objective analysis of treatment effectiveness.

Dr. Friedman moved his research to Dalhousie University from Ben-Gurion University in Israel in 2014 after being attracted to the university and the province of Nova Scotia because of its business community and provincial support from organizations such as ACOA, Innovacorp and BioNova.  The gain was also a big one for Dalhousie, Dr. Friedman is one of the top researchers globally in his field and has received over $9 million in research funding over the past decade.

The software can be integrated into existing equipment and will provide ophthalmologists with much more valuable data that promises to significantly improve diagnosis and treatment efficacy not only for patients at risk of diabetic retinopathy but also patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, Stroke, brain injuries and other diseases that are caused by leakage from blood vessels.

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