AI tech company gains Topcon and National Vision support

Toku seeks to apply artificial intelligence-powered diagnostic and screening tools to retinal images to analyse for biometric markers linked to health risk factors

Dr Ehsan Vaghefi

Toku Inc, a technology company specialising in applying artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools to retinal images in order to measure health risk factors, has completed a round of investment co-led by National Vision and Topcon.

The developer has closed an $8 million Series A Preferred financing round.

Through the process, the company gained the support of technology manufacturer, Topcon, and National Vision, one of the largest optical retail companies in the USA.

Dr Ehsan Vaghefi, co-founder and CEO of Toku, said the company was proud to gain the support.

The investment round is set to help accelerate the development and commercialisation of technologies using AI to analyse retinal images for biometric markers linked to overall health and risk of cardiovascular events, stroke and diabetes.

Toku applies its technology to retinal cameras, in order to maximise market access, the company said.

“Over 80% of cardiac events and diabetes-related blindness could be prevented by identifying risk and applying targeted interventions,” Vaghefi said. “We are building a future in which more people have affordable access to this critical health data – all from analysing a retinal image.”

Topcon has welcomed Toku as its first Entrepreneur in Residence.

Akifumi Baba, president of Topcon Medical Systems, said: “Topcon is supporting technology for early detection of diseases of and through the eye.”

“Toku retinal image analysis technology will do just that by giving people access to potentially life-saving health insights while overcoming traditional access and affordability barriers that too often accompany new healthcare tools,” Baba continued.

Dr Priti Patel, senior vice president of healthcare strategy and development at National Vision, commented: “Through AI-powered technology, Toku has found a way to identify potentially life-saving information quickly, accurately, and unobtrusively during a routine eye exam.”

Patel said National Vision was investing to help make the technology available to those who “rely on us to help them see better, to live better.”

“This is an opportunity to help shape AI technologies that will prioritise better outcomes for patients and deepen the quality of care we’re able to provide,” she added.