Ophthalmology's Next Frontier
Millions of middle-aged and soon-to-be elderly people worldwide are running headlong into vision problems, and this looming patient pool is already beginning to steer the future course of physician practice and research and development dollars. The potential for huge rewards is certainly present for developers of safe, effective new therapies for disorders of the aging eye.
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Ophthalmology has long been a bright spot for venture investors given the potential market size, health care burden, and high unmet medical need associated with many eye diseases. Based on a recent analysis by Start-Up magazine, there is no sign that trend is diminishing. Using Elsevier's Strategic Transactions database, Start-Up found that private backers have poured nearly $1.8 billion into 58 ophthalmology start-ups since 1999, with the money split nearly 50/50 in terms of device and drug investments. This trend is likely to accelerate as a number of new acquirers emerge to play in what was once a niche area.
At this year's meeting of the Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, market leaders made headlines with news of joint ventures in refractive surgery, new product launches and re-launches, and other glimpses into the future of vision correction technology.
Refractive lens exchange is a mega opportunity in ophthalmology with the potential to serve the large patient populations with presbyopia and astigmatism. The category has been slow to take off, however, because current technology doesn't allow clinicians to meet, consistently and with confidence, the high expectations of new refractive surgery customers who are paying out of pocket for the benefit of great vision, at all distances. WaveTec has an enabling technology for a wide range of refractive surgeries to help clinicians and the many manufacturers of implantable intraocular lenses deliver on the promise of better vision.