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Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences


Dr Louise Allen is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Cambridge. Working together with Cambridge Enterprise, industry Expert-in-Residence Dr John Pritchard helped Allen to successfully apply for funding from Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP) and from the MRC Confidence-in-Concepts fund to advance development of Digi‐Vis – a portable, user‐friendly computerized system for easy, quick and cheap vision testing of infants, children and adults.

Current visual function tests have limitations requiring either expensive static equipment or expensive charts that must be frequently replaced as they degrade through wear. Last year over 50,000 patients attended Cambridge University Hospital Foundation Trust (CUHFT) eye clinic. All patients require an initial visual acuity assessment, taking up 16 hours of nursing time per clinic session and slowing clinic through‐put. The involvement of a clinician or trained medical staff to carry out the tests and interpret the results leads to inevitable appointment delays and it is estimated that twenty patients per month suffer severe but preventable sight loss as a result.

In 2012, Louise won an NHS Innovation Award for her invention KidzEyez, which assesses visual fields in children using a video camera to observe their eye movements while they are watching a video on a large screen. Building on the existing KidzEyez product, Digi-Vis is a portable computerized platform comprising multiple tests for vision function making testing for all patients interactive, quicker and easier to interpret; it can give an objective result with a binary read‐out for use by untrained individuals. Dig-Vis comprises a suite of tests for infants, young children, adolescents and adults and could be used not only in hospital eye clinics but also in Emergency and Neurology Departments, GP surgeries and for vision screening in schools (currently a requirement in the UK for all 4-5 years olds) to reduce the high false positive rate of children prescribed glasses who don’t need them.

John Pritchard has provided advice to Cambridge Enterprise and Louise Allen relating to the development and regulatory requirements for the new platform of digital eye tests, providing a valuable outside perspective.   Louise comments: “As a full time ophthalmologist I knew the clinical need and how to design the solution for it but didn’t  know how to progress the project further. The advice I have received from John and the team from Cambridge Enterprise regarding IP, funding and future commercialization has been integral in shaping the direction of this project.” The funding that Louise has received for this project from the MRC and CUHP is in excess of £80K.

Cambridge Enterprise holds granted patents for the KidzEyez test in the US and Japan with a pending application in Europe, and is working with Louise to develop and commercialise the Digi-Vis product. Rachel Atfield, Technology Manager at Cambridge Enterprise, is excited about the potential impact of the technology: “Digi-Vis has the potential to revolutionise vision testing in hospitals and schools and will be a platform for multiple visual function tests for children and adults of any age. We are committed to helping Louise develop and commercialise the technology to ensure Digi-Vis benefits patients and improves sight screening."