Press release

The eyes have it: Funding boost for software that detects life-threatening conditions

Published on 10 August 2020

Software that can detect life-threatening conditions from a simple eye examination could be one step closer to a high street optician near you.

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The Multiple Disease Screening from Retinal Imaging project, a joint initiative between the University of Dundee and University of Edinburgh, has received £176,000 funding from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme.

The project will utilise the highly-acclaimed VAMPIRE (Vascular Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina) software, an existing collaboration between the two universities, which analyses blood vessels in the eye to help diagnose and assess the risk of conditions such as dementia and cardiovascular problems.

Changes to the retina are often a sign of poor cardiovascular health elsewhere in the body, and VAMPIRE can analyse thousands of images to determine changes in shape of blood vessels.

Researchers from the two universities have been working with Dundee’s Research and Innovations Services team and Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, and believe the software could significantly benefit the work of healthcare professionals.

Emanuele Trucco, a Professor in Computing at the University of Dundee, said, “VAMPIRE has already proven effective as a means of identifying health problems in academic studies, and the next step is to apply it in a commercial setting.

Simple eye examinations promise to identify life-threatening conditions, and VAMPIRE is an inexpensive way to detect systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and dementia. This backing from Scottish Enterprise is significant in allowing us to take VAMPIRE from the laboratory to the public realm, and we hope that the software will form an integral part of a person’s visit to the optician in the near future.”

Dr Tom MacGillivray, Senior Research Fellow at the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility and the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, said, “Our ambition is to form a spinout company delivering real-world solutions to key healthcare problems impacting on our society.

“As well as contributing to healthcare, we expect to create employment opportunities in Scotland, in software and data analysis.

“The success we’ve had to date shows the benefits of Scottish universities working together.”


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489