New Zealand-based Toku Eyes is bringing its newest technology (ORAiCLE) to the United States. ORAiCLE can assess the cardiovascular risk of an individual through a retinal scan, more accurately than the current gold standard and is more cost-effective and easily-accessible through locations such as pharmacies and self-service retinal photo kiosks.
Why does it matter?
It is often unknown that the cardiovascular system is able to be photographed through the eye. Toku Eyes has created ORAiCLE as an AI platform to recognize minute changes in the blood vessels, capillaries, and arteries, pigmentation, calcification, etc., and use this to stratify the person’s risk of having a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke or heart attack, in the next 5 years. Research results suggest that ORAiCLE can be more accurate than traditional risk calculators that are being used in advanced healthcare systems (such as the Mayo Clinic’s equation in the United States).
Its proprietary patent-pending technology uses an image of the back of the eye taken from a retinal camera, allowing the test to be done almost anywhere, especially with new retinal cameras becoming smaller and more portable. Additionally, learning to use a retinal camera and the AI software requires minimal training, which means anyone can conduct the test. Within seconds of receiving an image, Toku Eyes’ AI platform can then assess the risks of a cardiovascular event or blindness and provide personalized wellness and lifestyle advice or indicate the need for specialist referral for preventative care.
While ORAiCLE is focused on assessing cardiovascular risk using retinal images, Toku Eyes has already developed another product (called THEIA) which is focused on identifying blinding conditions using similar retinal images. Toku eyes is aiming to provide the most comprehensive, cost-efficient and accurate risk assessment for heart attacks and blindness, using the combination of its two platforms (ORAiCLE & THEIA). This is especially important for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Toku Eyes’ platform is already being used as part of diabetic screening service in both the public and private sectors in New Zealand. It is also live in 20 clinics in India with the goal to be in 70 by the end of the year. Its AI technology also works accurately even with low-quality images, as opposed to others like Google who have tried to develop similar technology.
As part of its US expansion, Toku Eyes is partnering with EyeCheq which is creating a network self service retinal image kiosks across the US. It is also partnering with Unified-Imaging, a multi-modal imaging repository which connects a variety of primary and specialty clinics across the United States. Through these partnerships and more, Toku eyes is planning, subject to finalizing regulatory clearances, to be present at more than 1500 locations across the US by 2025.
On the record
“Using the eye as a diagnostic device for conditions outside the eye makes it so now opthamologists can begin to talk to the cardiovascular surgeon. This has huge potential that will ramify throughout medicine,” said Professor John Marshall, the inventor of laser eye surgery.
“If you can see the future, you can change it,” said Ehsan Vaghefi, co-founder and CEO of Toku Eyes. “By looking inside the eyes, we get an in-depth view of what is happening inside the entire body to better assess the risk factors of each individual and identify high-risk individuals before their condition worsens. Our goal is to make health screening simple and easy to access for the entire population so we can get in front of underlying health risks and improve patient outcomes.”
136 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes today, and over the next ten years, one in three will have a heart attack, while one in ten will go blind. Yet, more than 80 percent of these outcomes are preventable if those with high-risk are identified early. However, the methods used to identify high-risk people have traditionally been inaccurate, costly, and invasive. 40 percent of those with diabetes or prediabetes cannot even access critical screening due to distance or lack of appointments.