An artificial intelligence system that can recommend the correct referral decision for over 50 eye diseases as accurately as world-leading experts has been developed by researchers at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, DeepMind Health and UCL.
The breakthrough research, published online on 13 August by Nature Medicine, describes how machine-learning technology has been successfully trained on thousands of historic de-personalised eye scans to identify features of eye disease and recommend how patients should be referred for care.
The researchers said they hoped that the technology could one day transform the way professionals carry out eye examinations, allowing them to spot conditions earlier and prioritise patients with the most-serious eye diseases before irreversible damage sets in.
“The number of eye scans we’re performing is growing at a pace much faster than human experts are able to interpret them. There is a risk that this may cause delays in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases, which can be devastating for patients,” Dr Pearse Keane, MD, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NIHR clinician scientist at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said.
“The artificial-intelligence technology we’re developing is designed to prioritise patients who need to be seen and treated urgently by a doctor or eye-care professional.
“If we can diagnose and treat
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