Research team's startup aims to improve eye health

Thursday, June 13, 2024

A new University of Waterloo spinoff company aims to improve people’s eye health with a novel device that can take the eye’s temperature.  

ThermOcular AI, started by Waterloo Engineering alum Dr. Ehsan Zare Bidaki (PhD ’22, vision science and system design engineering) and Dr. Paul Murphy, a professor at the School of Optometry & Vision Science, has developed a patented thermal imaging system that measures the temperature of the cornea to screen for dry eye and potentially other ocular diseases. 

ThermOcular AI aims to provide imaging of the eye that will tell clinicians whether a patient’s ocular temperature patterns are consistent with dry eye by taking a short video of a patient’s eye and recording the pattern of how the ocular surface temperature changes over time. That will indicate whether the patient is likely to have dry eye. The tool could possibly be used to diagnose other ocular surface diseases in the future. 

“[The device] would be a quick screening test for patients, compared to other tests that might take an hour,” said Bidaki, ThermOcular’s CEO. “A clinician would still be involved to decide next steps.” 

Bidaki has been working on measuring eye temperature since he started his PhD in 2017 under the joint supervision of Murphy and Dr. Alexander Wong, a professor in the Department of Systems Design Engineering and the Canada Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence and Medical Imaging. 

ThermOcular AI was incorporated as a company in January 2024. The founders have been working with Velocity, Waterloo’s startup incubator, since 2022 to access funding through the Up Start program and get help with product-market fit, sales traction and founder network support as they shift their focus from research to entrepreneurship. 

Read Taking the temperature of the eye for the full story.