Interview with Max Ostermeier, CEO and Co-Founder of Implandata Ophthalmic Products GmbH
Chronic conditions require close monitoring to ensure a successful therapeutic outcome. Unfortunately, patients aren't always able to perform their own measurements and the exam intervals between appointments at the physician's office are frequently too long. An innovative implant is designed to address this gap in glaucoma care and treatment andenable patients to make intraocular pressure measurements on their own.
In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Max Ostermeier talks about the eyemate system by Implandata Ophthalmic Products, which won the Healthcare Innovation World Cup at MEDICA 2021.
Mr. Ostermeier, what is the eyemate system and how does it work?
Max Ostermeier: Eyemate is a proprietary implant that facilitates remote monitoring and management of glaucoma patients. This eye condition causes elevated intraocular pressure. If left untreated, it damages the optic nerve. Over time, patients experience defects in their peripheral field of vision and if the damage worsens, even permanent vision loss.
When it comes to glaucoma care, there is no lack of ocular hypotensive therapies as there are many oral medications, invasive and non-invasive procedures available. The problem pertains to the monitoring of glaucoma since the eye doctor must measure the intraocular pressure at his/her office. Patients with glaucoma have scheduled follow-up visits every three to six months, which means physicians only get a snapshot into the disease progression.
The eyemate system features a micro-sensor that is implanted in the eye and facilitates self-measurements in the patient's usual living environment. Patients use our proprietary handheld device to make intraocular pressure measurements on their own. The data is then transmitted to our secure database. This allows the eye doctor to remotely monitor the condition and make treatment adjustments based on the patient's current condition at an earlier stage.
Who is the best candidate for this system?
Ostermeier: The micro pressure sensor is implanted during cataract or glaucoma surgery. Approximately one million cataract surgeries are performed each year in Germany. Nearly 20% of these patients concurrently suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma surgery helps drain extra fluid out of your eye, thus lowering your eye pressure. The procedure is performed tens of thousands of times a year in Germany.
These patients are perfect candidates for the eyemate system in the future. Until now, we have used eyemate only within clinical trials but we have just received CE mark approval for marketing in the European Union in 2022.
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How does the system work after patients underwent implantation?
Ostermeier: Eyemate is a passive system. The micro-sensor is powered and read out by an external handheld device, similar to RFID technology. Patients hold the handheld reader in front of their eye for one to two seconds, which activates the micro-sensor. The latter then sends the measurements to the handheld device, which transmits the data to our proprietary web-based database. Patients can measure their intraocular pressure as often as they like but should do so at least three times a day. We have seen many patients taking measurements up to eight to ten times daily because they want to make sure that the IOP-lowering treatment is working.
You won the Healthcare Innovation World Cup at MEDICA 2021 - what does that mean to you?
Ostermeier: The award is a great honor and recognizes our work and achievements. It shows that we are addressing an important need and are the global technology leader in this setting. Several US companies feature similar technologies, but they are still in the very early stages of development. We are now gaining more attention by the medical technology industry, which helps in promoting our company. This is a cutting-edge technology made in Germany, which I think is something to be proud of.
What are your business development goals for the next few years?
Ostermeier: Our first step is to pilot the device with selected leading eye centers in Europe. It is an important step to gain relevant market experience in a controlled setting before we expand into foreign markets that require CE marking.
Our second objective is to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Our eyemate system has obtained Breakthrough Device Designation from the FDA, which enables us to apply for an expedited path to market in the U.S. That is our plan for 2024 or 2025.
The third goal is to pursue new developments. We continue to reduce the size of the sensor to where it no longer requires surgery but is merely injected into the eye. This also expands the patient base that can benefit from this technology.
The interview was conducted by Timo Roth and translated from German by Elena O'Meara. MEDICA-tradefair.com