NuEyes: Using Virtual Reality to Improve Vision for Achromatopsia, Congenital Nystagmus & Macular Degeneration Patients

An Idea

Sometimes life leads us down unexpected paths.

Mark Greget founded a medical device distribution company. That was his plan. But after interacting with patients through his work, he saw a need he thought he could fill. Specifically, he saw that the devices his company was selling just weren’t cutting it for patients who are visually impaired. They wanted to live normal lives, read their email, watch TV, and clearly see the faces of their loved ones. The current devices didn’t allow them to do all of these things. But he had an idea, and while not an engineer, he set about to see if he could accomplish it himself.

After seeing the development of augmented reality and virtual reality soar by huge companies such as Google, Ikea, and Ford, He thought he could potentially pair this new technology with current assistive technology to improve outcomes for visually impaired patients.

He, quite literally, sat down in his garage with duct tape and glue and began working on a prototype. His algorithms worked, and he moved forward with his idea.

This project has been in the works since 2014.

NuEyes

In 2016 NuEyes was launched with StartUp Health. It’s an AR/VR headset that creates a 3D experience for those living with visual impairment. As it is, many patients with macular degeneration or other forms of visual impairment rely on devices that have to be positioned exactly right in order to aid vision at all.

If patients put a NuEyes device on top of AR glasses (which have an IoT device), they are able to not only experience life clearly, in real-time, they are even able to stream content. The headset is able to change contrasts to fill in colors which the eyes of those visually impaired can’t do themselves. Using the device is simple. You press a bottom to turn it on, adjust the contrast/colors and zoom in/out as you please.

This development is truly setting a new standard for those living with visual impairment.

So far, Greget has sold more than 2,000 NuEyes and NuEyes e2 (the latest version).

Greget was successful because he took the time to understand who it was who was using the products he was selling and what exactly their needs were. The aging Baby Boomer generation doesn’t just want to be able to read a book, they also want to be able to connect with people online. They are the same kinds of patients they have always been, but now they’re wanting different things and our developments and care need to respond to those shifting priorities. The most common complaints that Greget heard during his work were that the current devices were clunky and that the systems weren’t automated enough. So he set about to fix these issues.

The process has not been short or easy, but Greget says it’s all been worth it to hear someone say that his device has helped them see.

“There’s no better feeling on the planet.”

It’s helped an 18-year-old diagnosed with congenital nystagmus and achromatopsia, be able to keep practicing karate. Additionally, it’s benefited numerous people suffering from macular degeneration.

NuLoupes

Now that Greget’s company has developed such an extensive background with augmented reality, optics, and engineering, they began looking at what other innovative devices they could create with their knowledge. Who else could they help?

Loupes are small devices that help magnify details for dentists and surgeons. The current versions have a small magnification threshold, aren’t able to connect to wifi, and don’t stay on the nose securely. Medical professionals were dissatisfied. To top it all off, the current loupes are expensive. They cost between 3,000 to 4,000 dollars each.

So Greget decided to create a new version and it will actually be launching this year. There are currently 5 different prototypes of the device and Greget is working with medical distribution companies to discuss the launch. The new device is called NuLoupes. They are customizable with voice-activated magnification ability, telepresence, and digital annotation capability. It’s essentially a “limitless visual ecosystem.”

If you’d like to learn more about these developments, you can read more about NuEyes and NuLoupes here. You can also email Greget directly. Ultimately, his work showcases the importance of listening to patient and physician feedback and using that information to create new developments. We need to remember that the consumers of medical supplies are real patients with real challenges and real desires. In order to know what will best benefit them and what they hold in highest priority, we need to listen to them and what they need. Greget is setting a new precedent, not only for visual impairment devices, but for all those looking to serve the rare patient community.


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