AI succeeds in diagnosing eye disease by 96%: DHA

The Dubai Health Authority, DHA, has displayed its Artificial Intelligence, AI, in an eye disease diagnosis initiative during its participation in the UAE Innovation Month 2018.

The initiative aims to utilise an AI programme to identify retinal damage from the thousands of eye scans fed into it, hence aiding doctors in diagnosing and treating patients effectively and quickly.

The second phase of the Dubai Diabetes Survey 2017 revealed that the total prevalence of diabetes among Emiratis in Dubai is 19 percent, while the total undiagnosed diabetes cases of Emiratis is 11 percent and the rate of pre-diabetic Emiratis is 18.6 percent.

Dr. M. Hamed Farooqi, Director of the Dubai Diabetes Centre at DHA, said that along with this high prevalence of diabetes comes a high global prevalence of retinal damage as more than 93 million people are diagnosed with eye damage and one in three diabetics will develop diabetic retinopathy, according to international statistics.

Dr. Farooqi said diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects the eyes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can cause blindness.

He explained that to diagnose diabetic retinopathy regular retinal imaging is required and, in some cases, optical coherence tomography is also used. This imaging test provides cross-sectional images of the retina that show its thickness, which will help determine whether fluid has leaked into retinal tissue.

Dr. Farooqi added that usually seven pictures of each eye are needed to diagnose retinal damage, this means that doctors need to go through thousands of scans to diagnose patients. AI can ease this process.

"The Dubai Diabetes Centres provided the images that were fed into an AI programme developed by Artelus LLC - a Dubai company focused on cutting-edge AI research in healthcare. These images were already diagnosed by the retina experts at Dubai Hospital and were compared with the diagnosis of the AI programme and the accuracy of the programme’s diagnosis of retinal damage reached 96 percent of all referable cases in comparison. The more scans are fed to the programme the more accurate the diagnosis will be. These positive results will be considered in possibly adopting this programme at the centre," he said.

Dr. Farooqi went on to say that adopting AI will allow patients to receive their results faster, leading to early detection, which can result in better management of the condition. AI will also reduce the overall cost of managing retinal complications, he added.

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