Novartis has acquired US-based software startup Amblyotech, which is developing a digital treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye) that leads to vision loss in children and young adults.

Financial details of the transaction are yet to be divulged by either company.

Amblyopia impacts approximately 3% of the population worldwide. Some of these patients could be eligible for Amblyotech’s therapy, if approved, said Novartis.

Existing treatment options, including patching and atropine, have low compliance and low success rates. In addition, adults have limited approved therapies.

Amblyotech leverages active gaming and passive video technology, along with 3D glasses, to train the eyes to work together for viewing an image completely. Technology-based therapy improves compliance.

Its software uses a visual presentation, dichoptic display, which presents each eye with different images via a proprietary algorithm.

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Early clinical studies showed that Amblyotech’s software could improve vision in children, as well as adults with faster onset when compared to standard of care treatment.

Novartis expects the software to expand the refractive disorder pipeline in ophthalmology therapeutic area.

Novartis Ophthalmology global business franchise head Nikos Tripodis said: “By offering a noninvasive solution that has the potential to be significantly faster than current standards of care such as patching for children and adults impacted by lazy eye, Amblyotech’s software is a great example of how we can reimagine medicine using digital technology.

“We look forward to using our deep clinical development expertise in ophthalmology to accelerate this platform toward regulatory approval and our global commercial footprint to maximise access for patients who need it.”

Novartis will collaborate with Ubisoft and McGill University to speed-up the digital treatment’s development.

The aim is to develop a series of engaging games for the therapy, proof-of-concept studies planned for later this year.

In November, Novartis signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based The Medicines Company for $9.7bn.