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Ophthalmology diagnostics startup opens ABQ headquarters

WaveFront Dynamics Chief Operations Officer Ron Rammage looks into the early-stage industrial design prototype of the company’s new eye-measuring device as employee Sophia Neal looks on. (Courtesy of WaveFront Dynamics)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque startup WaveFront Dynamics Inc. has opened a new, 9,800-square-foot office to continue developing an advanced eye-measurement system that could provide customized sight correction for hard-to-treat patients.

The company, which launched last year, is led by the same team that built an eye-measurement system to prepare patients for laser refraction surgery that is now used across the globe.

The team is now refocusing its sights on a new way to intricately measure individual eyes to provide contact lenses specially built for the patient.

The new facility at 2420 Comanche NE provides laboratory space for research and development, and manufacturing space for the company to build its eye-measurement machine and related devices on-site. It includes an array of individual offices for the 15-member team to sustain social distancing during the pandemic, much more so than the three-office space it previously occupied at the Bioscience Center in Uptown Albuquerque, said Chief Operations Officer Ron Rammage.

“Everyone now has a private office and there’s plenty of space in the common areas to practice safe distancing,” Rammage said. “We’ve already moved in.”

The team has worked together since 1996, when former Sandia National Laboratories scientist Dan Neal launched WaveFront Sciences, a previous company that built the eye-measurement system for laser eye surgery. That company was acquired for $20 million in 2007 by Advanced Medical Optics, which later sold it to Abbott Laboratories. Johnson & Johnson then acquired Abbott’s ophthalmic division in 2017.

The team continued to develop the eye-measurement system under different owners, eventually perfecting its measurement technology to allow 100% of patients to achieve 20/20 vision with laser surgery, said Dan Neal, who developed the original technology at Sandia and now heads WaveFront Dynamics as CEO.

“In April of last year, Johnson & Johnson concluded there was no more need for research and development on LASIK because it was so well-perfected, so they consolidated their operations and closed our office,” Neal said. “We then took the technology and equipment to focus on under-served groups of people who can’t be treated with LASIK.”

That includes patients who suffer from things like “cone eye,” where the dome-shaped tissue that covers the cornea thins and bulges outward into a cone shape that can’t be corrected with laser surgery or with current contact lenses or glasses. Unlike the LASIK measurement system, which provides snapshot-like images, the new technology will take video-like images to record much more detail about an individual’s eyes to develop custom-made contact lenses, Neal said.

The new startup will not only develop and build the measurement systems, it will also provide custom-made contacts, allowing the company to expand its markets.

 

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