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43: Deepeye, maximising the potential of AI in preventing vision loss with Manuel Opitz

15MWTD - Manuel Opitz - Deepeye
On this episode, Manuel Opitz, a serial healthtech entrepreneur returns to the show. After continued growth at Mercuris, a 3D prosthetics startup, he has now started work on a Deepeye. An AI platform that supports ophthalmologists make important therapeutic decisions in blindness causing health conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Learn how he got involved, the specifics of the platform, gaining investment and contracts and his personal story.

What you will learn in this episode:

What is Deepeye?

Deepeye empowers ophthalmologists by using an AI model trained on thousands of images. It helps doctors understand the optimal time and frequency to give injections that can help prevent blindness. While ophthalmologists are already exceptional in this aspect, 15% of therapeutic decisions can have errors which has a cost of 1.7 billion.

Is this precision medicine?

Exactly, it’s a second opinion on a very individualised basis. In the end, the decision must be made by the ophthalmologist, the retina specialist. Deepeye is using OCT (optical coherence tomography) data, a live 3D retinal scan of the patient, and it’s painless, fast, and accurate compared to many other diagnostic support tools or imaging modalities.

Is this precision medicine?

Exactly, it’s a second opinion on a very individualised basis. In the end, the decision must be made by the ophthalmologist, the retina specialist. Deepeye is using OCT (optical coherence tomography) data, a live 3D retinal scan of the patient, and it’s painless, fast, and accurate compared to many other diagnostic support tools or imaging modalities.

What drew Manuel to this startup?

Manuel has family affected by age-related macular degeneration, this personal aspect and the fact that 12% of the population in Europe and US are affected by eye conditions that can cause blindness attracted him to the project. He was approached by the group of ophthalmologists who had pioneered the research.

Any potential cost savings of using the tool?

One aspect is saving cost on injections, as anti-VEGF therapy costs around 2000 euros. If you save some injections, 1 or 2%, that’s already very good given the numbers of people affected. But the bigger lever is under therapy. That’s the major issue, according to studies. It’s less about cost-saving by saving drug use. It’s more about cost-saving by improving quality of life by reducing under treatment.

“We do the therapy to prevent much higher costs for the entire healthcare system. But of course, also to safeguard the vision for the patient. If you ask around the most fearful loss of the sense that you could have in your entire life, more than 70% of all people would answer it’s their vision, and most people are really afraid of losing” their vision.”

How did Manuel get the first contract and the first investment?

They are fortunate that they have close contact with several industry participants. Thanks to the ophthalmologists who have been working on the project for the past three to four years. They closed a recent deal with a pharma company.

Recently, they also started their fundraising round, and they are now reaching out to a lot of potential investors who have a track record in scaling, either in ophthalmology or precision medicine.

Links:

Deepeye’s Website: https://deepeye.ai/
Connect with Manuel Opitz on LinkedIn
Connect with Vinay Shankar on Once Daily
Once Daily: https://www.oncedaily.co/ai-in-healthcare-how-to-use-retinal-images-to-prevent-vision-loss/

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