Sankara Eye deploys AI-based tool to diagnose diabetic retinopathy

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The latest convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and retinal diagnosis has given a new hope to those at risk of diabetic retinopathy. Sankara Eye Foundation and Singapore-based Leben Care have deployed a comprehensive retina risk assessment software – Netra.AI to enable faster and accurate detection of retinal disorders in large populations with limited healthcare resources.

This cloud-based AI solution is powered by Intel technology and uses deep learning to identify retinal conditions in a short span of time with accuracy matching with human doctors. Diabetic Retinopathy is the major cause for blindness and vision loss in working population.

With a large portion of diabetic population residing in rural India, there is a concern on shortage of trained ophthalmologists to diagnose diabetic retinopathy.

Early diagnosis

Kaushik Murali, President Medical Administration, Quality & Education, Sankara Eye Foundation informed that there is a gap between the onset of disease and it reaching a stage, where it becomes irreversible blindness. “If (by using AI), we are able to diagnose diabetic retinopathy early, we can intervene at that stage and try to either modify the disease so that the retinopathy itself doesn’t progress, or can preserve the limited vision for the patient,” he said.

“We tried to mimic what we were doing as a clinician and be able to look at AI algorithm. That enabled us to get a very high sensitivity (99.7 per cent) and specificity (98.5 per cent) – similar to how ophthalmologist would diagnose diabetic retinopathy,” said Murali. The report is generated within a few minutes thereby helping doctors to provide instant counsel for patients needing to be referred to the hospital.

Netra.AI was validated at Sankara Eye Hospital with internal and external validation using images from the patients.

Netra.AI can also diagnose other retinal conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration and other retinal pathologies.This reduces the screening burden on healthcare specialists.

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Kathy Laura

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