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On Tech & Vision With Dr. Cal Roberts

Apr 15, 2022

This podcast is about big ideas on how technology is making life better for people with vision loss.

In 2012, Christine Ha won the third season of Masterchef, after having lost her vision in her twenties. Since her win, she has opened two restaurants in Houston, adapting to the challenges the pandemic still poses to restaurateurs in order to meet the needs of her community. In a similarly innovative way, Max Ostermeier, CEO and Founder of Implandata Ophthalmic Products out of Hannover Germany, has reimagined the remote management and care of patients with glaucoma. Max and his team developed the EyeMate system, a microscopic implantable device and microsensor that measures intraocular pressure throughout the day. The EyeMate sends eye pressure data to an external device and uploads it to their eye doctor's office for analysis. This game-changing technology allows people with glaucoma to bypass regular trips to the ophthalmologist’s office to measure their eye pressure, key data in maintaining their eye health. We revisit a conversation with Sherrill Jones, who lost her sight due to glaucoma, in which she shares how difficult it was to adhere to compliance protocols. Max believes the EyeMate will evolve to be part of a closed loop drug delivery system; that is, when the EyeMate registers a high pressure, medications could automatically be released into the patient’s eye, which could improve outcomes significantly. We dig into issues of compliance and closed-loop systems by considering diabetes. We talk to occupational therapist Christina Senechal who has managed her diabetes for 27 years, and Dr. Carmen Pal, who specializes in internal medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism in Lighthouse Guild’s Maxine and John M. Bendheim Center for Diabetes Care.


The Big Takeaways:

  • Innovation and adaptability have been key as Christine Ha, who won Masterchef in 2012 despite being blind, keeps the doors open on two Houston restaurants during the pandemic. In order to find opportunities through the pandemic, Christine has had to discover new needs that have to be met.
  • The pandemic has made it harder for patients with glaucoma, many of whom are older, to get to the eye doctor.
  • Dr. Max Ostermeier and his team have invented a microscopic implantable device, the EyeMate, that measures intraocular pressure throughout the day and then sends the data to a patient’s handheld device and their eye doctor's office for analysis, saving patients a trip.
  • Since it can take many readings throughout the day, this system is better than relying on a doctor’s visit. The abundance of data can help patients use their medication more reliably, but can also be optimized in the future by algorithms.
  • In the future, Max envisions that the EyeMate could be paired with a drug delivery implant to close the loop between monitoring and drug delivery, as with diabetes. This would make it easier for patients to stay in compliance with glaucoma protocols.
  • We speak with Sherrill Jones, a patient with glaucoma, on why compliance for glaucoma was a challenge for her.
  • We hear from Christina Senechal about her journey with diabetes and how hard compliance can be and how new technologies can help, and from Dr. Carmen Pal about how closed-loop drug delivery systems that pair glucose monitoring with insulin delivery help patients stay in compliance.



  • There is opportunity and you just have to kind of think outside of the box and figure out what new ways … to think or do things, and what new needs are that need to be met. And that's how you survive. — Christine Ha, chef and restaurateur, Xin Chao and The Blind Goat, Houston
  • “Glaucoma patients … are among the most vulnerable. … They have been asked to stay out of the doctor’s office. … But … they have an eye disease, which, if the pressure is too high, can damage the optic nerve. —Max Ostermeier, CEO and Founder of Implandata Ophthalmic Products
  • Right now, ... a patient sees his eye doctor, maybe every few weeks or every few months and in between the office visits, the doctor has no understanding at all, what's going on with the patient. —Max Ostermeier, CEO and Founder of Implandata Ophthalmic Products
  • I knew I had glaucoma, but the rapidness of it attacked me really fast. … and … I didn't faithfully use the drops in the beginning because I thought other remedies could help.—Sherrill Jones, patient with glaucoma
  • I'm pretty sure in 10 years from now, we will see something like that, you know. A device, which … is releasing active ingredients … every time the pressure’s too high. —Max Ostermeier, CEO and Founder of Implandata Ophthalmic Products
  • I'm a mom, … and … it’s … 10 o'clock. … I'm exhausted. I've had a full day … and my insulin pump starts beeping. … I just wanna go to bed! I'm so tired, but … I don't have that luxury of saying no. — Christina Senechal, occupational therapist and patient with diabetes
  • It is quite beneficial … that … the patient does not … have to … fill the role of the pancreas, which is a little bit of an … unfair … task to ask of them. — Dr. Carmen Pal, diabetes specialist in Lighthouse Guild’s Maxine and John M. Bendheim Center for Diabetes Care.


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