As the popular saying goes, the eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. When we apply this to the realm of healthcare, we might adapt it to say, “the eyes are the windows to the body.” This is because various diseases that affect our body manifest in the eyes.
Ophthalmologic exams can identify signs of abnormalities within our body, aiding in patient diagnosis. For instance, retinography and fundoscopy can detect infectious, chronic, vascular, hematologic, rheumatic, neurological disorders in addition to eye-related conditions.
In neurology, headaches, cerebral aneurysms, multiple sclerosis, and intracranial hypertension — the latter of which can be related to brain tumors can all impact the structure of the orbit and eyeball.
Since last year, neurologist Marcos Christiano Lange has been using Eyer, the portable retinal camera, to map a patient’s retina from the initial consultation. The device uses a built-in smartphone to conduct high-quality retinal exams within minutes, without the need for pupil dilation.
“Eyer is a significant help in screening. Besides being more convenient, when the attention map indicates potential abnormalities outside my field, I advise the patient to consult their ophthalmologist or refer the exam to a partnering ophthalmologist,” he explains.
This was how one of Lange’s patients was diagnosed with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). “She reported worsening vision, attributing it to possible cataracts. Upon examination, I observed protein accumulation in the macula and referred her to an ophthalmologist, who diagnosed AMD and initiated treatment. If I had performed a traditional eye fundus examination as a neurologist, focusing solely on the optic nerve, I wouldn’t have detected these findings,” he recalls.
Recently, Phelcom introduced a new feature: EyerMaps, an innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that accurately detects any suspected retinal abnormalities.
Within seconds of capturing a photo of the eye’s fundus, if a suspicion of an abnormality is detected, the AI generates a new image with an attention map (heatmap) highlighting potential retinal abnormalities.
Synchronized with EyerCloud, Phelcom’s cloud-based system for patient data and exam management, the tool visually categorizes images and exams based on the probability of alteration, using color markers in the images and exams:
- Green: Image or exam with low probability of abnormality (up to 30%);
- Yellow: Image or exam with moderate probability of abnormality (31 to 70%);
- Red: Image or exam with high probability of abnormality (71 to 100%).
The AI aids in diagnosing over 50 diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, papilledema, and headaches. “I like to keep up with new technologies and am already familiar with Eyer. During a headache course I conducted, Phelcom provided the equipment for us to perform fundus assessments. After using it in practice, I decided to invest in acquiring the device,” he recalls.
Since then, the neurologist has conducted over 400 exams with Eyer, all stored in EyerCloud for reports and tracking. “As soon as I capture the image, I upload it to the platform and open it on the computer to show the patient and explain the details in case of suspected pathology,” he says.
Eyer for Neurologists
For Lange, investing in a portable retinal camera like Eyer is important for neurologists to have an expanded view of the retina. “Even though retinal diseases aren’t our specialty, we can still assist the patient. And that’s priceless,” he emphasizes.
Another advantage is following up with patients who exhibit papilledema and degenerative diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and hypertensive retinopathy.
Eyer is a portable retinal camera that performs high-quality retinal exams in a few minutes, without the need for pupil dilation.
The technology is currently available in Brazil, the United States, Japan, Chile, Colombia, and will become available soon in other countries.
Portability, connectivity, and integration of intelligent functions like EyerMaps, along with the more accessible price, contribute to increased access to retinal exams.
Phelcom Technologies is a Brazilian medtech company based in São Carlos, São Paulo. The company’s story begins in 2016, when three young researchers – a physicist, an electronic engineer, and a computer engineer (PHysics, ELectronics, COMputing) – created a portable retinal camera integrated with a smartphone.
The idea for the first prototype arose from co-founder Diego Lencione’s interest in visual health, as his brother had a condition that severely compromised his retina and vision since childhood.
In 2019, Phelcom launched its first product on the Brazilian market: the portable retinal camera, Eyer. More than 2 million people in Brazil and around the world have been examined by it so far.
In four years, the company has participated in over 100 social initiatives and was recently ranked among Brazil’s top 10 most innovative companies by Forbes Brazil.