The Swiss firm created the ophthalmic digital research platform with ResearchKit. It enables researchers to track disease progression by collecting real-time and self-reported data directly from consenting patients.

Collecting data from traditional ophthalmic clinical studies is inflexible and infrequent, making it hard for researchers to monitor patients' disease activity and capture real-world patient experiences.

Mark Bullimore, medical advisor for the creation of FocalView, said: "Because patients with eye diseases are often not as mobile, FocalView has the potential to offer tremendous benefit for the ophthalmic community and for researchers looking to develop better treatments for these patients.”

FocalView has been designed to help patients complete various assessments and collect feedback on their visual function, including any changes over time.

Researchers can also collect large amount of real-world and patient-reported data, which will help to create flexible and accessible clinical trial designs.

The app will be tested in a prospective and non-interventional study to assess its efficiency and usability in evaluating visual function.

The study will include measurements such as visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.

Researchers will also evaluate ease of use, level of enrollment and the ability to secure significant documentation for future clinical trial research.

In addition, the app will be validated against traditional visual testing, which takes place within conventional clinical settings.

Novartis chief digital officer Bertrand Bodson said: "Optimizing digital technology in research and development, particularly in ophthalmic disease, could have a marked impact on the quality of the data we capture.

"We believe apps like FocalView, which we've made freely available to the research community on an open-source platform, can help accelerate the development of treatments and bring them to the patients who need them most."

Novartis provides therapies for the treatment of both front and back of the eye disorders, including retina diseases, glaucoma, dry eye and other external eye diseases.

Image: Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Photo: courtesy of Novartis AG.