Emerging Entrepreneurs

This ENT surgeon’s device is keeping an eye on vertigo

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on October 29, 2018

Srinivas Dorasala, co-founder, Cyclops Medtech   -  N. Ramakrishnan

Cyclops Medtech’s tool helps in diagnosing the cause of vertigo and dizziness

Srinivas Dorasala gets passionate when he talks about vertigo. As an ENT surgeon, he has handled several patients with problems of vertigo. If someone says he or she has vertigo, in itself it means nothing. It is like saying somebody has fever. Like a fever, vertigo is only a symptom.

There is an underlying problem that causes vertigo, he says and adds that not many people are aware of this. The underlying cause has to be diagnosed to give the correct kind of treatment.

“I took an interest in vertigo when I was in MS Ramaiah College. I got to use a technology called videonystagmography, using a French-made device,” he says. It made a lot of difference in treating patients with vertigo and balance disorders, he adds. Videonystagmography is used to test inner ear and central motor functions, which is a process called vestibular assessments. Patients wear special goggles and their eye movements are traced.

But the problem, according to Srinivas, was the equipment were foreign and they were imported in small numbers, and there were issues relating to service and maintenance support. To pinpoint the cause of vertigo, you need this equipment and it was prohibitively expensive.

The trigger point

That was the trigger for Srinivas and his two other co-founders to start thinking about developing and building a home-made product that will help in diagnosing the cause of vertigo using eye tracking and at the same time bring down the cost of the equipment. They formed Cyclops Medtech Pvt Ltd, whose first product, BalanceEye, has made diagnosis of various neuro-vestibular conditions easy and affordable.

 

Though they had an idea of the product they wanted to build, the problem was in finding designers to help design the product and who were not expensive. Another problem that Cyclops faced was in locating manufacturers to make plastic parts and other components in small numbers. After a lot of effort they were able to get all this in place and launched the product in January 2017.

Three-camera device

Their idea was to build a product that will be much cheaper than the imported ones, be functional and have more features. “That is exactly what we have delivered. The imported equipment that I was using had a one-eye imaging facility. It had its limitations. We are the first three-camera device – two eye tracking cameras and one scene tracking camera,” says Srinivas. The device can take a video image of the eye both in darkness and in light. Even when it is dark, there is a lot of eye movement and each movement leaves its own signature. That gaze path is what Cyclops uses to analyse the functioning of the inner ear and what is happening in the brain. “You can look at the eye movement and tell what exactly is the kind of flow of fluid is happening in the inner ear,” says Srinivas.

He explains that when the eye moves, the stability of gaze is provided by the ear. The ear detects the head movement and informs the eye, which then moves accordingly. “When the head moves, there is some amount of fluid movement in the inner ear. Inner ear fluid movement and eye movement are related. We can see the eye movement and say in what way the inner ear fluid is moving,” says Srinivas.

Cost-effective

Compared with ₹20 lakh for an imported device, Cyclops’ device costs ₹4.5 lakh. The company has sold 100 devices so far, most of them in India and a few in Jeddah, Oman and the Philippines. There is a huge global market too for this device as this problem is universal. Cyclops sells the device to individual doctors, hospitals and clinics. It will use the money raised from Unitus Ventures and others to expand the market. Cyclops, according to Srinivas, is working on a device for detecting stroke. The company has developed the software and the algorithms that are used in analysing the eye movement.

How has the switch from being a practising ENT surgeon to an entrepreneur been? Srinivas says when he was a practising medicine, his tolerance for mediocrity was low. He could not countenance any failure in any of the equipment that he was using. Now, he says, he is a lot cooler. If a vendor does not meet their expectation in quality, “we know there is another option. We don’t think this is the end of the world.”

Published on October 29, 2018

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