BOULDER — Matt Oerding and Dr. Gary Gerber have launched their startup Treehouse Health LLC in Boulder to take advantage of the area’s startup scene.
The company, formed in 2015, plans to open Treehouse Eyes eye-care centers that will offer a patent-pending method of treating myopia, or nearsightedness, which causes blurry distance vision.
“Boulder has an amazing startup scene with best-in-breed professional services for entrepreneurs,” said Oerding, the company’s chief executive and co-founder. “Our legal counsel, CFO, accountant, business banker and CPA are all here and specialize in working with startups. We’re excited to play a role in the growing health-care arena happening in Boulder.”
Right now, Oerding is running the company out of the Impact Hub Boulder at 1877 Broadway. The company has six employees, including Oerding and Gerber, who works from New Jersey.
The company raised $2 million in seed funding in less than six months. The company’s advisory board includes experts in myopia control and Lenscrafters’ founder Dean Butler.
Oerding said the Treehouse treatments can slow or stop the progression of near-sightedness, but does not reverse it.
“There are more than 10 million children with myopia in the United States, and that number is expected to increase to 30 million by 2025,” Oerding said.
Myopia generally is caused by genetics, but among the reasons for the increased number of children with myopia is that they are spending more time looking at a screen on a digital device and less time outdoors where they would use their distance vision, he said.
Erin Stahl, pediatric ophthalmologist and investor in Treehouse Eyes, said the types of treatments Treehouse Eyes offers are noninvasive and supported by strong evidence of their effectiveness and safety.
“Most eye doctors have busy practices, which makes it difficult to recommend and provide the types of customized treatments Treehouse Eyes will offer,” Stahl said. “I’m excited there is finally a place dedicated to providing this type of needed service for children with myopia.”
The first two Treehouse Eyes centers will open in the Washington, D.C. suburbs — Bethesda, Md., at the end of July, and Tysons Corner, Va., in August, areas that have a high prevalence of myopia, Oerding said.
Current plans include expansion in major markets across the United States with a goal of opening more than 20 centers in the next two years. Oerding couldn’t say when a center would be opened in the Boulder Valley.
The centers are designed to be engaging and inviting and will offer appointments designed to accommodate the schedules of parents and children, including before and after school and on the weekends.
“We want our centers to be a uniquely nurturing and positive space offering families diagnosed with myopia a new pathway to better vision for life,” said Oerding. “We’re challenging the status quo around vision care and have the opportunity to help kids see a brighter, and clearer, future.”