Aug. 9, 2023

Researcher works to eliminate barriers to eye exams using artificial intelligence and virtual reality

Applications are open for the 2023 Life Sciences Fellowship
Abdullah Sarhan, co-founder of RetinaLogik, with the virtual reality goggles.
Abdullah Sarhan, co-founder of RetinaLogik, with the virtual reality goggles.

Over two billion people suffer from vision impairment, with over 50 per cent of vision loss being preventable. Early detection and diagnosis of vision conditions, for example glaucoma, are treatable with early intervention. Using screening equipment is crucial, but the equipment in clinics is often expensive, non-portable and sometimes inaccurate. This results in barriers to vision screening leading to irreversible vision loss, often affecting underserved communities.

During a trip to Uganda, UCalgary grad Abdullah Sarhan met wonderful people but noticed many of them could not travel and receive the care they need, let alone afford to go to an eye specialist. This inspired him to investigate how he could apply his research to support better access to health care.

While completing his PhD specializing in deep learning applied to vision science, he began exploring how his research can have a bigger impact in the community by attending hackathons. There he connected with his cofounder, Julia St.Amand, a Haskayne School of Business grad, resulting in the creation of RetinaLogik.

RetinaLogik leverages the power of artificial intelligence and virtual reality by creating a portable eye test using virtual reality glasses that improve patient insights and vision screening for everyone everywhere. Not only does the platform aim to reduce misdiagnosis, improve portability and make eye exams more affordable, but the platform was designed to make it more engaging and comfortable for patients. Vision care providers use the RetinaLogik’s platform to gather and analyze visual field information using virtual reality and enhanced analytics. While wearing the headset, patients are guided through a tutorial in their own language, then perform various vision tests that can then be viewed remotely by a vision specialist, even if they are not in the same physical location. 

Alberta Innovates and Innovate Calgary support Lfe Sciences startups in Alberta

Since graduating from his PhD in 2021, Sarhan and St.Amand have worked full-time on growing RetinaLogik which was accepted into the Life Sciences Fellowship (LSF) in March 2022. LSF is an accelerator program run in partnership with Innovate Calgary and Alberta Innovates, that supports technology-driven solutions to a compelling and unmet need in digital health or life sciences. If you need a boost to launch your solution to market, this fellowship provides $200,000 in non-dilutive funding, expert support, targeted professional development training and a paid membership to the Life Sciences Innovation Hub to support you.

“Since joining LSF we have continued to build our technology to where it is now, due to access to great advisors and resources. The funds we received, and mentorship through the expert advisor program, have also proven exceptionally valuable as we continue to build momentum. We’ve also enjoyed our membership at Life Science Innovation Hub where you can meet fellows and entrepreneurs and share our experiences” says Sarhan.

Participants in the Life Sciences Fellowship join a robust network of entrepreneurs and support, connected by the desire to improve our standards of living and diversify our economy. RetinaLogik continues to grow and is currently recruiting talent to join their team. Connect with RetinaLogik.

If you are working on a life science project and would like to explore its translational potential, apply to the Life Sciences Fellowship by Sept. 12, 2023. If you need help with your application, connect with Marian Danko, senior nenture manager at Innovate Calgary. This opportunity is open to anyone in Alberta.

The Life Sciences Fellowship is made possible in partnership with Innovate Calgary and Alberta Innovates with additional funding support provided by the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development; Calgary Economic Development’s Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Prairies Economic Development Canada.

Innovate Calgary is the innovation transfer and business incubator centre for the University of Calgary. As part of the Office of the Vice-President (Research) portfolio and as a member of the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, we work closely with researchers, faculty, and students to help bridge the gap between discovery and creating economic and societal impact.

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