Leuven, August 3 2021 - By the end of this year, an innovative, easy and low-cost approach to screening for eye diseases - such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma - will be available to every European ophthalmologist. MONA.health, a spin-off of Flemish research and technology institute VITO and KU Leuven, has gained the confidence of Belgian investors to make this technique - which goes by the name of MONA and uses artificial intelligence (AI) - ready for commercialisation. MONA.health is part of Start it @KBC, the biggest startup accelerator in Belgium.
"Screening for eye diseases is now usually done by an ophthalmologist using different techniques and pupil dilating eye drops, which is uncomfortable for the patient. Screening for diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma is time-consuming and labour-intensive," said Olivier Ménage, CEO of Mona.health.
MONA provides standardised, accurate results using a 'simple' retinal camera without pupil dilatation. MONA's accuracy is 92.5 % for referable diabetic retinopathy and 94 % for macular oedema. The examination time is reduced to less than 4 minutes and the results are available to ophthalmologists a blink later. Studies have shown that the accuracy of the results is as high as that of the best trained ophthalmologist. The procedure is currently being evaluated in four Belgian hospitals with the E Clair clinical trial supported by the Diabetes League.
Currently, one in two patients with glaucoma goes undiagnosed. These patients are at risk of going blind. The financial cost and time it currently takes to screen for glaucoma are among the reasons for this. MONA's AI for glaucoma screening (patent pending) will transform clinical practice. Glaucoma screening will take only a few minutes, will be less inconvenient for the patient and will be considerably less expensive. This will lower the threshold for the patient and allow the ophthalmologist to spend more time on treatment and follow-up.
MONA will be provided as software (as a service solution) or as software with a retinal camera (as an all-in solution). This solution for the screening of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema with artificial intelligence is CE-certified and will be available to ophthalmologists in Europe by the end of this year.
MONA.health has closed a €1.5 million Seed financing round with leading strategic Belgian investors to recruit additional software developers and commercial staff, implement several large-scale pilot projects for diabetic retinopathy screening, and finalize regulatory approval for glaucoma screening. CEO Olivier Ménage is an industry veteran, having previously held senior management positions at Fortune 500 Medical Device companies.