Published July 22, 2003
Volume 11, Number 7

Massie Uses Technology Insight to Benefit Patients' Eyesight
Jianhong "JW" Wang, optical engineer, tests one of Massie Laboratories' RetCam
products prior to its shipment. RetCam allows doctors to monitor the health and
development of the eye.

By George Walsh
Network Editor

Some people believe that technological advances have simplified our lives, while others maintain that they’ve made our existence more complex. Few, however, would argue against the idea that technological breakthroughs in science and medicine have made our lives safer and healthier. In the area of diagnosing medical conditions of the human eye, Massie Laboratories Inc., at 5775 W. Las Positas Blvd., is a pioneer.

Massie Laboratories is a medical device company that develops, manufactures, and markets integrated optical systems and services to aid health care professionals in diagnosing, managing, and treating eye disorders using optical, laser, electronic, and information technologies. The company’s initial product line, dubbed RetCam, has improved the standard of eye healthcare for pediatrics and is sold to leading Neonatal Intensive Care Units on a global basis.

Massie Laboratories started out as a contract research organization working in the area of advanced lasers and optics, headed up by physicist Bert Massie Ph.D, along with a few of his colleagues. Massie initially formed a small consulting company to work in high tech arenas such as government and military projects. However, the group also had a desire to develop diagnostic imaging systems in ophthalmology—which they felt was an area that was under-served by technology. By 1997, this passion  led to the development of the technology that resulted in Massie’s first product: RetCam.

RetCam is a digital imaging device for use by healthcare professionals to diagnose and evaluate eye diseases of children and premature infants. The system is used by pediatric retinal surgeons, pediatric ophthalmologists, general ophthalmologists, and neonatologists to digitally image a child or infant’s eye and evaluate whether they have cancer of the eye (retinal blastoma), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), or suffer from shaken baby syndrome.. With this information, they can determine what type of treatment the patient needs. “We are to pediatric ophthalmology what the Xray and ultrasound are to general medicine,” says (might just want to use Bert’s last name here since you give his full name above – whatever you think is best) Bert Massie, Chief Executive Officer for Massie Laboratories. “RetCam lets you see what’s going on and document it so that you can compare what you see today with what you saw at the last patient visit and determine a course of action.” RetCam has been the enabling tool for several international clinical trials and is used by Stanford University, Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute, UCLA/Jules Stein Eye Institute, Toronto Hospital for Sick Kids, Cleveland Clinic, USC/Children’s Hospital, and Will Eye Institute. Massie has shipped nearly 200 units of the system to 24 countries throughout the world.

Massie Laboratories’ 16,000 square foot facility in Hacienda is the workplace for nearly 30 employees focusing on research and development, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and corporate activities. Products in development include a device that will be used in helping to diagnose adult conditions like diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, anterior segment disease, eye tumors, and other eye problems facing adults. Eventually, the company is also considering entering the ophthalmic laser business through partnerships with other companies. “Our digital imaging system is state of the art and has been needed for a long time,” Massie says. “Kids often go blind in undetected cases of retinoblastoma. If it is missed, it could threaten their life.” Massie shows that technology can definitely have a positive impact on our lives and that those who develop it often think beyond everyday conveniences to create devices that can really make a difference.


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