Spect receives series seed funding for eye disease screening solutions

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The company's AI-enabled mobile telemedicine platform helps clinicians capture retinal images and screen for vision-threatening eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Spect, a provider of end-to-end eye disease screening solutions, has received $3.5 million in series seed financing, led by Morado Ventures, XTX Ventures, 10X and AME Cloud.

The company's AI-enabled mobile telemedicine platform helps clinicians capture retinal images and screen for vision-threatening eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) -- at a drastically reduced cost using medical assistants and nurse practitioners in primary care and at-home care.

This enables screenings to be completed in substantially less time and cost compared to seeing an eye specialist (such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist).

Mike Ricci, CEO and co-founder of Spect, noted that the eye is the body's check engine light.

“Retinal screening can prevent diabetic retinopathy, and give early warnings about heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's,” he explained. “Sadly, despite this, people skip their annual eye screenings because it's costly and inconvenient."

That is a trend that, according to Ricci, has to stop.

“Spect solves today's retinal exam pain points so that millions of patients can, and will, get the preventative care they need,” he said.

Spect brings eye care to primary care, benefitting:

  • Patients: Spect improves patient health by making it easy to receive vital eye screenings. It also reduces time at the doctor's office, allowing for an annual eye screening procedure to be done in one visit, as opposed to needing to schedule additional follow-ups.
  • Clinics: Clinics can provide better care to patients in-house, without needing a referral; and Spect improves the quality of care metrics.
  • Ophthalmologists: Spect frees up doctors' time to focus on treatment, rather than on performing screening exams.
  • Payors: Vision-threatening diseases are caught earlier and treated with minor procedures, as opposed to expensive surgery and drug treatments down the line.

Diabetes impacts nearly one-third of the U.S. population, and many are affected by its related health complications. Diabetic Retinopathy is currently the leading cause of vision loss in American adults, impacting the lives of millions, yet preventable through regular eye check-ups. Despite that, 60% of U.S. patients skip their annual eye exam due to a dearth of appointment availability and a serious shortage of retinal specialists, which makes visits costly. Spect is positioned to address this critical healthcare gap because its technology makes treatment more affordable and accessible at the point of care.

How it works
Spect's platform creates a frictionless workflow that enables healthcare staff to obtain results in three minutes or less with an image gradeability above 95%.

  • Spect Imaging Device: Spect practices receive a small, portable, and easy to use device for doctors to carry in their pocket
  • Spect Telemedicine Platform: Spect trained specialists can guide clinicians how to use the Spect device, enabling seamless at-home testing options
  • Spect Retinal Image Grader: Spect's AI-enabled platform analyzes the results within minutes, instead of days
  • Spect's Dataset: Over 1.5 million images captured to date are on the platform and this dataset continues to grow
  • Spect's Business Model: Spect utilizes a SaaS licensing model, and there is no upfront or support cost to the customer

"Spect has tremendous power to scale by using artificial intelligence," Ash Patel, founding partner of Morado Ventures, said in a statement. "One day, Spect will be in our medicine cabinets at home, without the need for a specialist to perform an examination. "

Theodore Leng, MD, director of research at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, and a co-founder at Spect, noted that the implications of the company’s technology and dataset span far beyond the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy because the retina tells physicians so much more about human health.

“The team is creating a new and scalable way to diagnose diseases that plague billions of people across the globe,” he said in a statement.