Sight plays a fundamental role in our perception of the world, and yet, many prevalent causes of blindness, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration, often go undetected until irreversible damage occurs.
The combination of this significant clinical gap and an aging population has led to a surge in vision impairment and blindness cases. Globally, over 2.2 billion individuals suffer from some form of near or distance vision impairment. Shockingly, nearly half of these cases, amounting to around 1 billion people, could have been prevented or require immediate attention. This alarming prevalence of vision impairment not only affects individuals but also places an enormous economic burden on a global scale, with estimated annual productivity losses reaching a staggering $411 billion (1).
Zilia: Pioneering Eye Disease Prevention and Management
In the pursuit of transforming eye disease prevention, diagnosis, and management, Zilia, a Canadian startup founded by two visionary brothers, Dr. Patrick Sauvageau (trained optometrist and visual scientist) and Dominic Sauvageau (PhD in engineering), has emerged as a driving force for change.
The Remarkable Potential of the Eye
The eye serves as an extraordinary gateway to our overall health. It is the only organ in the body where both blood vessels and the brain can be directly observed and assessed, given that the retina is an extension of the central nervous system. This unique characteristic makes the eye an exceptional area for studying and evaluating biomarkers associated with ocular, neurological, and systemic health.
Revolutionizing with Ocular Oximetry
It is now widely acknowledged that structural damage to the eye often stems from metabolic dysfunction. The most effective way to assess metabolic function is by measuring the oxygen saturation in the eye’s tissues, commonly known as ocular oximetry. Ocular oximetry represents a crucial biomarker in numerous ocular diseases, including diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Introducing Zilia Ocular
In an effort to reform the detection and treatment of these conditions, Zilia has developed the groundbreaking Zilia Ocular, a retinal camera intended to measure oxygenation in the eye. Through the integration of advanced imaging, spectrometry, and artificial intelligence, this device emits light that travels through the eye, reflects on the retina, and returns to provide a series of high-quality images and spectra. These real-time analyses generate actionable data on the eye’s metabolic activity, marking a significant milestone in enabling early detection of the leading causes of preventable blindness for everyone.
A Glimpse into the Future
By utilizing the eye as a window to overall health, Zilia’s technology holds the potential to assess a wide range of biomarkers present in the eye, opening doors to countless new applications.
In the coming years, Zilia’s revolutionary platform will be adapted and expanded to impact various medical disciplines such as neurology, cardiology, oncology, intensive care, and rapid therapy monitoring for drug research and development. All of this can be achieved non-invasively and within seconds, transforming the way healthcare professionals diagnose and manage conditions.
(1) World Health Organization. 13 October 2022. Blindness and visual impairment. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/blindness-and-visual-impairment