Inoveon Internet service offers preventive diagnostic eye care to diabetic patients

Des Plaines 05 September 2000Wesley Jessen VisionCare Inc., a major investor in Inoveon Corp., has installed the Inoveon Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy Evaluation Service at its first optometric test site, located in Somers, New York. This service combines the latest advances in digital retinal imaging with the power, flexibility and speed of the Internet to detect abnormalities in the blood vessels of the retina caused by diabetes. It also pinpoints the level of diabetic retinopathy and provides clinical management guidelines.

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The Inoveon system employs digital retinal imaging, which is performed as an office-based test by eye care providers or primary care physicians. Retinal images then are fed to Inoveon via the Internet. A reading centre evaluates the retinal images using methods developed as a result of decades of diabetic retinopathy research by the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health, and returns an evaluation to the treating physician or optometrist within a day. Five percent of the patients evaluated typically require further treatment with laser surgery, a simple and effective outpatient procedure with a 90 percent plus success rate.

"Diabetic retinopathy is a disabling, but highly treatable disease which costs the American society about $3 billion per year. Currently, less than 40 percent of diabetic patients receive an annual dilated fundus examination as recommended by the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology", commented Dr. Lloyd Hildebrand, M.D., Inoveon's Chief Executive Officer. "It forms an ideal application for telemedicine since the complex visual diagnostic process is well defined and universally accepted. The evaluation is far more efficiently and reliably done at a centralised location than in a clinic or at a non-retinal specialist's office. Additionally, the electronic transmission of the retinal imagery takes time and cost out of the process."

"We are delivering a gold standard evaluation of the diabetic patient's retina. This system makes the test far more convenient for patients, and makes it easier for them to access the care", stated Dr. Hildebrand. Wesley Jessen expects to launch additional Inoveon test sites in optometric offices later this year, which will lead to a national launch of the system in 2001, according to Paul Soye, Ph.D., and Wesley Jessen's director of new business development.

Inoveon was founded in 1996 by two ophthalmologists and an information technology specialist in order to commercialise digital disease management technology developed at the University of Oklahoma. Inoveon has licensed the technology from the University of Oklahoma. It was a group of private Oklahoma investors, the Presbyterian Health Foundation and the University of Oklahoma which have assisted and provided the start-up funding for the company.

In July 1999, Wesley Jessen obtained the right to market the Inoveon service to U.S. optometrists, the primary market it serves with its speciality contact lenses. Wesley Jessen is a worldwide leader in contact lens manufacturing and marketing. Its principal brands include FreshLook and Precision UV disposable lenses; CSI, DuraSoft, OptiFit, Aquaflex, ProSoft and Hydrocurve reusable lenses; Gentle Touch planned replacement lenses; SoftPerm; and Polycon2 and Fluorocon RGP lenses.


Leslie Versweyveld

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