In So Many Words is a timely chat with an ophthalmic industry thought leader.
Shawn O’Neil joined Sight Sciences this past fall after 20 years at Alcon. In this interview, Mr. O’Neil, the company’s chief commercial officer, discusses why he couldn’t pass up joining the company, which was founded in 2011 by brothers David Badawi, MD, and Paul Badawi.
Ophthalmology Management: Sight Sciences’ new Omni Surgical System lets surgeons deliver viscoelastic and perform trabeculotomy with the same instrument. How does that benefit surgeons?
Shawn O’Neil: The Omni Surgical System is intelligently engineered to perform two distinct procedures: 1. dispensing viscoelastic into the anterior chamber and 2. customized trabeculotomy within the same handpiece. The advantage is that, with a single device, ophthalmologists can perform more than one procedure to target points of resistance within the conventional outflow pathway. The Omni Surgical System, since it is indicated for these two proven procedures, can be performed at the time of cataract surgery as well as in a standalone environment.
OM: You have ongoing safety and efficacy trials for the Visco360 viscoelastic delivery system and a pilot study for the TearCare System, a wearable device that delivers heat therapy to the eyelids. What are the endpoints?
SO: While the Visco360 is available for purchase, we see this trial as a chance to bring more data to the marketplace regarding its safety and efficacy. Specifically, we’re looking at the Visco360’s ability to lower IOP in open-angle glaucoma patients. Understanding the role of viscodilating Schlemm’s canal is also important as we launch our new Omni Surgical System.
For the TearCare System, the objective is identifying its impact on dry eye disease. We recently completed a single-center pilot study of the TearCare system, the results of which were recently published in Clinical Ophthalmology. In April we initiated a multi-center, randomized control trial with the TearCare System.
OM: Sight Sciences’ founders, David and Paul Badawi, co-invented all of the company’s products so far. Are they still involved in design?
SO: They’re still both very involved in design and management. David is an ophthalmologist and serves as the chief technical officer; Paul, who has a background in finance and investing, is our CEO. Our current portfolio was created from their desire to address the underlying causes of eye disease, by creating products that would transform established, effective, but highly invasive procedures into minimally invasive operations that were easier for surgeons to perform.
OM: Your company is fairly new, founded in 2011. Were there any funding challenges?
SO: Our funding has been really strong, thanks in part to Paul’s background in investment. We’ve been really fortunate to be well-funded through private equity investors. Since our current product lines are commercialized, we can bring in revenue and demonstrate our value. Sight Sciences also received $10 million in Series C financing in the fall of 2017. That’s what allowed me to join Sight Sciences that September and has allowed us to create a strong commercial strategy to bring our products to market.
OM: What persuaded you to join Sight Sciences?
SO: What appealed to me was the chance to help build a best-in-class commercial team, from basically the ground up. The opportunity to take my 20-plus years of experience and leave my mark on this space, combined with these great products, wasn’t one I could pass up. OM