Tear Film Innovations raises $8.5M following clearance of its dry eye device

Tear Film Innovations' handheld iLux system received FDA 510(k) clearance late last year, allowing professionals to treat blockages by applying heat and compression. (Tear Film Innovations)(Image: Tear Film Innovations)

Tear Film Innovations has raised $8.5 million in series B financing as the company plans to bring on additional staff to continue development of its iLux device treatment for evaporative dry eye and related syndromes, including dysfunction of the Meibomian glands found on the rims of eyelids.

The preferred stock funding round was led by Visionary Ventures Fund and Bluestem Capital and completes the capitalization for Tear Film’s growth strategy, said Rob Thornhill, CEO of the San Diego-based company.

The handheld iLux system received 510(k) clearance from the FDA in December of last year. It enables eye care professionals to treat blocked glands by applying heat and compression through an in-office procedure.

“The early, enthusiastic response to the iLux system from both the ophthalmic and optometric sectors is very encouraging,” said Richard Lindstrom, of Minnesota Eye Consultants and a member of Visionary Ventures’ investment team.

“Dry eye continues to dominate the clinical and commercial landscape in eye care and we are confident the iLux device will play a significant role moving forward,” Lindstrom said.

The research firm GlobalData estimates the international dry eye treatment to swell to an estimated $4.6 billion by 2024, more than doubling the estimated $2.2 billion market size of 2014.

Evaporative dry eye stems from an insufficient outer lipid layer of oils, produced by the Meibomian glands, that helps to prevent the loss of lower aqueous and mucus layers of the tear film coating the cornea.

The company estimates that evaporative dry eye accounts for 65% to 85% of all cases, compared to aqueous-deficient dry eye, which is commonly treated with blockbuster drugs including Allergan’s Restasis, to increase tear production.