UIHC Doctor Works to Prevent Adult Blindness

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A University of Iowa doctor has developed technology that he believes will someday help prevent blindness here in the United States.

Doctor Michael Abramoff has spent ten years working to develop computer algorithms, software, and handheld computer technologies, which have already been introduced in Europe.

Abramoff has entered the technology into a clinical trial in the United States in pursuit of gaining FDA approval, which could lead to national circulation of the products.

"The more I can do to make healthcare affordable, the better it is," said Abramoff.

Abramoff is focusing on tackling diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause in adult blindness. He is presently working with about 15 other local researchers to perfect the products.

"People with diabetes are at risk of going blind," said Abramoff. "There are not enough doctors to provide for all those people."

People who have suffered from diabetes for 15 years are likely to experience some sort of diabetic retinopathy, according to Abramoff. Many will become blind if they don't seek treatment within a year or two of developing the disorder. The technology developed by Abramoff and his team takes a picture of the eye, then transfers it to a miniature computer to be analyzed. The computer then can tell the patient if they need to seek additional treatment.

"Within two minutes (the computer) can tell you if it's abnormal and if you're at high risk and need to see a doctor," said Abramoff.

The technology could be a major breakthrough in preventing American blindness. Abramoff hopes to circulate the relatively inexpensive cameras (around $1 thousand) to doctors offices and clinics across the nation in the coming years. Presently he needs FDA approval before selling the products in the United States.
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