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AI, tele-ophthalmology, and IoT to drive ophthalmic diagnostic and monitoring devices market

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COVID-19 pandemic is pushing the demand for contactless ophthalmic diagnosis and portable handheld devices.

According to the World Report on Vision published in 2019 by the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, the number of people requiring regular vision monitoring is going to increase by 2030 and the number of people over the age of 60 is estimated to increase to 1.40 billion. Ageing is the primary risk factor for the development of vision impairment and, subsequently, the number of people with glaucoma is going to increase 1.3 times and those with macular degeneration is going to increase to 1.2 times between 2020 to 2030.

Omnia Health Magazine spoke to Dr Sneha Maria M, Senior Research Analyst, TechVision, Frost & Sullivan on the occasion of World Sight Day 2020 to hear her thoughts on what is driving the ophthalmic devices market and Middle East-specific insights into the causes of the vision-related diseases.

What are the latest findings for the ophthalmic diagnostic and monitoring devices market?

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis finds that the demand for ophthalmic diagnosis and monitoring devices is expected to surge as the prevalence of eye diseases rises because of the growing ageing population, lifestyle changes, and increasing incidence of chronic diseases. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and telemedicine in the ophthalmic diagnosis and monitoring space play crucial roles in driving the market as they address the need for eye screening by increasing operational efficiency, accuracy, cost efficiency and access to ophthalmic care.  
 

Conventional ophthalmic diagnostic devices are bulky and non-portable, take a long time for analysis, require expertise, are uncomfortable for patients, and require frequent visits to the clinic or hospital. Going forward, these emerging technologies will support ophthalmologists in better understanding of diseases, taking rapid clinical decisions, and also improving patient compliance and access to eye care, while obtaining better clinical outcomes. These digital solutions will enable ophthalmic diagnostic companies to strengthen their portfolio and stay competitive in the growing market.

What are the main drivers of the growth of this market?

Eye conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes and age-related macular degeneration, in people over the age of 65, is high. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Bell’s palsy, Grave’s disease, Sjögren’s syndrome contribute to the development of eye disorders, as do lifestyle and behavioural changes, such as lack of sleep, overexposure to ultraviolet rays. Poor diet and smoking can also lead to deterioration of vision.

However, most eye conditions can be prevented from leading to vision impairment or blindness if diagnosed and treated early. Hence, regular professional screenings of eye health, especially in high-risk patients, is a necessity to avoid loss of vision.

As the demand for eye health monitoring is expected to increase, there will also be an increased demand for ophthalmic diagnostic and monitoring devices of high operational efficiency, especially portable, AI-supported, telemedicine-enabled and home-monitoring solutions.

Can you share some Middle East specific insights into the market?

The prevalence of chronic diseases in this region, especially diabetes, is high, according to the World Diabetes Foundation. International Diabetes Federation ranked Saudi Arabia and the UAE as 10th and 12th in the global prevalence of diabetes in 2018.

The Middle East region recognises the importance of tracking and monitoring eye health and is continuously improving its technological capabilities. Adoption of digital ophthalmic solutions is on the increase, especially in UAE and Saudi Arabia. Market entry of DIAGNOS CARA teleophthalmology platform and Digital Diagnostics IDx-DR AI technology are examples.

COVID-19, especially, is pushing hospitals and eye institutes to embrace new business models for conducting virtual ophthalmic consultations.

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