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On Tech & Vision With Dr. Cal Roberts

Sep 8, 2021

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

Today’s big idea is: How will remote diagnostic tests change ophthalmology and vision care? It might be a foreign concept for some, but the specialists in today’s episode, Dr. Peter Pham and Dr. Sean Ianchulev, founders of (Keep Your Sight, a nonprofit focused on remote diagnostic vision tests) share how they can conduct more reliable perimetry tests that help detect macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other conditions that lead to vision loss and eventually blindness —  remotely, while patients stay home. Developments like these in remote diagnostics are a stepping stone for the ways machine learning will impact the field of ophthalmology in the future. This episode also features Dr. Einar Stefansson and Dr. Arna Gudmundsdottir, developers of the app, Retina Risk, which helps with remote risk assessment of diabetic eye disease for people with diabetes, as well as Sherrill Jones, who lost her vision due to glaucoma.


The Big Takeaways:

  • Retina Risk was created to help people with diabetes assess in real-time their individualized risk for sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy. The app was created back in 2009 and the concept of using technology and algorithms to calculate risk was still quite foreign to most people.
  • What goes into taking a regular perimetry test today? Patients have to come into the office, wait, register, wait some more, get taken to a dark room to be positioned correctly, and after 20-30 minutes, you get a result. Now, there’s an easier way: patients can take these tests at home.
  • Why is telescreening so important? Dr. Pham and Dr. Ianchulev noticed it could take months for patients to be scheduled in for routine visual field tests. By that time, the glaucoma may have advanced, and in some cases, rapidly. There was an unmet need here and there was a better way to serve people quicker and more efficiently, especially people from rural communities who did not have readily available access to healthcare.
  • Medicare did not allow for doctors to reimburse their services unless it was conducted within the physician’s office. This led to a lot of roadblocks in telemedicine, despite the technology being available for the last 15-plus years. Thankfully, in December of 2020, policies were changed so that doctors would be reimbursed for remote patient monitoring.



“We know that our blindspot is 15 degrees away from fixation and, with simple trigonometry, you can now use that blindspot to help position patients correctly in front of the computer monitor. We can now use online technology to perform visual field tests.” — Dr. Peter Pham

“It was our goal to do a hardware-free digital/virtual device. We felt in ophthalmology, we’re kind of lucky. We are looking at a visual function. So perimetry lends itself to a fully virtual software as a service device.” — Dr. Sean Ianchulev

“I think technology will help us get to the next level. Technology has been around for this, but it hasn’t been applied for this.” — Dr. Sean Ianchulev


Contact Us:

Contact us at with your innovative new technology ideas for people with vision loss.


Pertinent Links:

Lighthouse Guild

Retina Risk

Keep Your


Guest Bios:

Dr. Peter Pham & Dr. Sean Ianchulev are both the Co-Founders of Keep Your Sight. Dr. Pham is a boarded certified ophthalmologist who has devoted his professional life to restoring sight and helping patients keep their vision. As a surgeon and clinician, Dr. Pham treats conditions such as glaucoma, cataract, and macular degeneration, all of which can cause blindness. As a researcher, he worked on the development of a novel delivery system for introducing large-sized molecular compounds into thousands of living cells simultaneously. Realizing the importance of technology and innovation for screening and prevention, Dr. Pham teamed up with Dr. Ianchulev to develop the KYS telemedicine system for vision health.

Dr. Ianchulev has been on the cutting edge of innovation, making an impact in the treatment of major eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. He was instrumental in the development of many new therapies and advances, such as Lucentis for AMD and Diabetic Retinopathy, intraoperative aberrometry for high-precision cataract surgery, micro-stent technology for glaucoma, the miLOOP interventional technology for cataract surgery, and others.

Dr. Einar Stefansson & Dr. Arna Gudmundsdottir are both the Co-Founders of Retina Risk. Dr. Stefansson is a leader in the field of diabetic eye disease and diabetic screening and head supervisor for product development and clinical science. Dr. Stefansson graduated from the University of Iceland Medical School in 1978 with honors. He received a PhD degree in physiology from Duke University in 1981 followed by a residency at Duke.

Dr. Gudmundsdottir takes an active role in all product development and clinical testing. Her expertise gives valuable insight into practical usage of products and medical approaches. Dr. Gudmundsdottir graduated from the University of Iceland Medical School in ’92. She undertook a fellowship program in endocrinology at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

Sherrill Jones lives in New York City and volunteers administrative services in Lighthouse Guild's Volunteer Services department.


Host Bio:

Dr. Calvin W. Roberts

Calvin W. Roberts, MD, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse Guild, the leading organization dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals. Dr. Roberts has a unique blend of academic, clinical, business, and hands-on product development experience. Dr. Roberts is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College. He was formerly Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Eye Care, at Bausch Health Companies where he coordinated global development and research efforts across their vision care, pharmaceutical, and surgical business units. As a practicing ophthalmologist from 1982 to 2008, he performed more than 10,000 cataract surgeries as well as 5,000 refractive and other corneal surgeries. He is credited with developing surgical therapies, over-the-counter products for vision care, prescription ocular therapeutics, and innovative treatment regimens. He also holds patents on the wide-field specular microscope and has done extensive research on ophthalmic non-steroidals and postoperative cystoid macular edema. Dr. Roberts has co-founded a specialty pharmaceutical company and is a frequent industry lecturer and author. He currently serves as an Independent Director on multiple corporate boards and has served as a consultant to Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis. A graduate of Princeton University and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, Dr. Roberts completed his internship and ophthalmology residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He also completed cornea fellowships at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston.