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Updated: Telemedicine Startup Drishti Eye Care Raises Funding From Lok Capital

Updated with corrigendum below:

Drishti Eye Care has raised an undisclosed amount in its first round of funding from Lok Capital. The company plans to use the capital raised to extend its service to underserved geographies of Karnataka. Drishti provides eye care facilities to under-served population in small towns and villages, include eye check up, treatment for Cataract and Intraocular lens (IOL), Glaucoma, Squint eyes, Lasik and Implantable Contact Lens (ICL) for vision correction, corneal transplant, paediatric eye diseases, and uveitis among others.

Drishti provides primary and secondary eye care services including screening for refractive errors, cataract, retinal complaints, glaucoma and treatment of eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and uveitis among others.

The company offers these facilities through three different modes – primary eye care through telemedicine supported vision centres, screening camps and surgical care at district hospitals.

Telemedicine Vision Centres

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Drishti stated that it sets up vision centres at existing general physician facilities in small towns and offers eye care services from its hospital over telemedicine, thereby skipping the necessity of setting up dedicated eye clinics in these regions and hiring trained opthalmologists for these clinics. However, there is no specific information on the company website on how these vision centres work, at the time of writing this article. We’ll update with inputs from the company once we hear back from them.

According to the company website, a Drishti trained optometrist uses a low cost fundus camera to check the patient’s vision and capture relevant data like retinal images, anterior segment and eye pressure in a report which is later sent to an opthalmologist present at a secondary care facility. The opthalmologist reverts back to the centre with his assessment within 15 minutes of receiving the report and the local doctor provides advice to the patient based on the assessment.

In case of secondary eye care i.e cataract and other eye related surgeries, Drishti books an appointment with the ophthalmologist and manages the patient’s travel needs for the appointment.

Dristi currently has three telemedicine vision centres in Karnataka, including one at Devanahalli, Bagepalli and Vijaypura, and plans to open 10 centres by the end of 2013, as indicated by an Economic Times report. The company also plans to open a surgical center at Devanahalli in the future.

Pricing: It is not clear as to how much Drishti charges for these services, although the company notes that it prices the services to cater to all economic segments and also provides support for social insurance schemes from the government. According to Drishti website, the company offers prescription glasses starting at Rs 200, which includes both fitting and delivery. The Cataract surgeries however start at Rs 1500.

Similar Developments

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In November 2011, Cisco had launched pilots of its remote healthcare solution in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka under a public-private partnership model with the two state governments. Under the program, community and primary healthcare centres in Sehore and Gwalior in MP and Shimoga in Karnataka, were connected to district hospitals, and patients were able to access basic medical treatment and specialist consultations remotely through Cisco’s video conferencing solution.

Cisco had also announced a joint initiative with Apollo Hospitals to deploy Cisco’s technology solutions in its operations, develop open healthcare IT standards and deploy solutions in India, Asia Pacific and other emerging markets in May 2010.

Telecom operator Aircel had also tied up with the Apollo Hospital Group to launch a mobile-based medical consultation service called Aircel Apollo Mobile HealthCare in Chennai and Tamil Nadu circles in October 2010.

Other Players

While we are not sure if there are any online eye care service provider in India, eyewear retail chain GKB Opticals had launched an online portal GKBoptical.com in October 2011. The portal offers contact lenses and spectacles across more than 60 brands including Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb, and Ciba Vision among others.

Valyoo Technologies which operates the e-commerce venture Lenskart also offers contact lenses, spectacles and eyeglasses. The company had raised $4 million from IDG Ventures in October 2011.

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Corrigendum: We had (previously) mentioned an incorrect website in the article. Apologies to our readers for the mistake. The post has been corrected accordingly.

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