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While in Uganda with the Cumming School of Medicine’s research team, Dr. Abdullah Sarhan noticed treatable conditions going undetected because people couldn’t travel to — or afford — necessary healthcare technology. Which got him thinking. What if healthcare was designed to go to the patient instead of the other way around? With that possibility in mind, Sarhan and Julia St. Amand founded RetinaLogik and created a portable option for eye specialists. “We were motivated by the social impact,” says Sarhan, MSc’16, PhD’21.

Now healthcare providers are able to gather field information using RetinaLogik software, which can be loaded onto commercially available virtual reality headsets. Patients, guided through a tutorial in their own language, can perform various vision tests themselves. Specialists can then analyze those results remotely via a secure web portal. That allows inexpensive and inclusive access to vision examinations for those in rural clinics, remote areas, and seniors homes. Individuals with mobility issues can also be screened.

According to Sarhan and St. Amand, the majority of conditions that can cause permanent vision loss — such as glaucoma — are treatable with early intervention. “It’s completely manageable. We have the tools to treat and prevent vision loss as long as it’s detected soon enough,” says St. Amand, BKin’22. “In Canada, in Calgary, people are still slowly going blind from this and don’t even know it.”

RetinaLogik was accepted into the Life Sciences Fellowship — an accelerator program run in partnership with Innovate Calgary and Alberta Innovates — in March 2022. The Calgary-based founders have also grabbed the attention of UCeed investors. “They have been great, especially with the advisory support,” says Sarhan. “We’ve been getting lots of support from the UCeed community.”

Visit RetinaLogik’s website for more information.

RetinaLogik has received investment from UCeed, a venture philanthropy fund accelerating UCalgary and community-based startup companies to advance problem-solving research, create jobs and fuel the economy. A key program in the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, UCeed bridges the gap between innovation, demonstration and commercialization, and is managed by UCalgary’s knowledge-transfer and business incubator, Innovate Calgary.

The UCeed Haskayne Student Fund is supported by the generosity of the Cannonball Sport and Education Foundation, Tamaratt Fund at Calgary Foundation, Chris Erickson, Curtis Probst, Vincent Chahley and Patricia Irwin, Michael Lang, and Michael Culbert.

The UCeed Social Impact Fund is powered by the generosity of the United Way of Calgary and Area and its mission to mobilize communities for lasting social change and the Government of Alberta’s Creative Partnerships initiative to support arts and non-profit sectors.