By Tom J. van Haarlem, Chief Executive Officer of VISUfarma
This year’s American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) conference was packed with breakthroughs and early signs of what’s in store for the industry’s future.
As a new name in the U.S. ophthalmic market and in AAO conference environment, we arrived eager to cultivate new relationships with entrepreneurs, physicians and executives. Needless to say, the conference did not disappoint.
The growing importance of medical and surgical eye care has prompted a transition point where restoring eyesight is finally in arm’s reach. Imagine a world where the legally blind could read their children a bedtime story or even drive a car. I’m happy to say that world is closer than you think.
Innovations like OrCam’s MyEye, a whispering assistance device that converts visuals to words, are allowing users to “see” in whole new ways. MyEye looks like a small camera attached to a pair of glasses and ‘speaks’ to the user via headphone. Its tiny computer can read printed materials and recognize faces – a relatively discreet and novel idea to see without vision. Unique approaches like OrCam’s MyEye serve as an excellent example of the groundbreaking work pushing the industry forward.
At AAO, we continued to unearth new thinking and technology to improve patient options, but large companies are still missing the mark in terms of providing these cutting-edge therapies to mass markets. On the other side, innovative start-ups often lack the resources and capabilities needed to support a far-reaching sales strategy. In order for patients to benefit from new eye therapies, start-up companies must succeed in getting their products into the hands of doctors and patients on larger stages.
Recognizing this gap, VISUfarma entered the U.S. market to act as a liaison in the ophthalmology field, providing resources to those who wish to expand upon their innovations through European distribution.
The pairing of therapeutic innovation with large market distribution cannot emerge overnight, but we are strengthened by our belief that partnerships are the answer to furthering eye health. We do our community a disservice if we focus on size alone when looking for industry movers and shakers – innovation is what matters.
The industry deserves quality technology, no matter where it comes from, and we at VISUfarma plan to play a major role in making the next chapter of ophthalmology a reality.