In 2014, the chief medical officer of an LLC called 231 Sheep noticed many of his Bay Area ophthalmology patients didn’t take their glaucoma medications properly and were losing their sight. The disease, which is not curable but manageable with eye drops, is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness, but 60 percent of patients don’t take their eye drops as frequently as necessary and are paying the price for it. 

231 Sheep created Ocuelar, a now-patented innovation. Allan Lee and Varun Shravah, project managers and clinical leadsm selected six Berkeley master’s students to develop a device: Aakansha Gosain (bioengineering), Andrew Flach (mechanical engineering), Chichi Chang (bioengineering), Manish Singh (biomedical engineering), Ryan Young (bioengineering), and Yifan Mao (mechanical engineering). 

Ocuelar uses a next-generation, nanotechnology-based hardware with a variety of sensors to record a patient’s medication usage in real-time. AI software and machine learning allows the device to identify at-risk glaucoma patients and predict their medication behavior. The result will be more accurate data for clinicians, earlier detection, and lower costs and better vision for patients.

“Glaucoma is an insidious disease that disproportionately impacts people of color and minorities, specifically African-Americans, Latinos, and East Asians,” says Varun. “Not only are people from these communities more at risk for the disease, they also tend to have worse outcomes. We wanted to build Ocuelar in a space that is dedicated to helping to reduce some of the healthcare disparities that exist for communities of color.”

In the CoLab, the team looks forward to collaborating and discussing ideas with other students and teams in order to refine its own ideas and create a user-centric device.

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