Employer: Polyphotonix

Diabetes and sight-loss

Over 320 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. For these people getting a good night’s sleep can contribute to sight-loss.

The cells in a normal retina (the back part of our eyes) adapt to darkness (for example when you close your eyes during sleep) by using additional oxygen from the blood.

However diabetic retinal cells don’t get enough blood flow during the night and therefore suffer from a lack of oxygen.  This can lead to sight-loss.

One way to avoid sight-loss is by preventing dark adaption of the diabetic eye by using light, or in other words, tricking the eye into thinking that it’s daytime even while you are asleep!

What is Polyphotonix?

Polyphotonix is a technology business which develops light treatments for retinal conditions using Organic Light Emitting Devices (OLED). This is the same technology used in mobile phones screens.

Unlike lightbulbs of the past, Light Emitting Diodes (LCDs) don’t get very hot and are more efficient, meaning they don’t waste as much electricity. They can also be made in tiny sizes, allowing them to be used in devices like flat screen televisions, laptops, and wrist watches.

Organic LEDs (OLEDs) can produce brighter light than ordinary LEDS, and they can be used to make light emitting surfaces that are ultra thin, less than 1/100th of the thickness of a human hair. They can also be made into very large flexible sheets which can be used to cover entire walls or ceilings.  These properties of OLEDs mean they can be used for more diverse applications than LEDs.

Polyphotonix has recently launched the Noctura 400 Sleep Mask. The mask uses OLEDs and is a non-invasive treatment for people with diabetes at risk of sight-loss. You can learn more about the mask by watching the video.

PolyPhotonix CEO, Richard Kirk, studied fine-arts in Scotland and worked abroad with fashion names such as Nina Ricci. In a complete career change, he returned to England and saw an opportunity working with OLED’s and their many potential applications in industry and medicine. You can hear him talking about the mask  and how it could save the NHS £1 billion compared to current pharmaceutical treatments on the following video:

This resource was produced as part of the FutureMe project.


Polyphotonix draws from a wide range of different career routes:

  • design engineer
  • software engineer
  • electronic and electrical engineer
  • mathematical modeller
  • quality systems engineer
  • test technician
  • data analyst
  • accountant
  • financial planner
  • sales and customer support
  • doctor

Science and Maths links

Topics in science and maths that link to Polyphotonics and what the company does:

  • Light
  • EM radiation
  • Electric circuits – current and voltage
  • Health and disease
  • Respiration
  • Organs (the eye)