AI project screens for early stage diabetic retinopathy in Mumbai

May 14, 2019 0 By FM

Nearly 1,300 diabetes patients have been successfully screened in a span of 8 months for early stage diabetic retinopathy using artificial intelligence (AI) set up at civic-run dispensaries in Mumbai. The project which was implemented by the Aditya Jyot Foundation for Twinkling Little Eyes (AJFTLE) had commenced in August 2018, as reported by The Hindu.

The screening program initiated by the foundation was set up in 18 civic-run dispensaries across the city. Out of all individuals screened, 92 patients were reported to have been diagnosed with early stage diabetic retinopathy and were referred for further treatments.

The patients have been screened using Remedio Fundus on phone which is a retinal imaging device attached to a smart phone. After the patient’s eye images are captured, the AI on the device screens them for signs of diabetic retinopathy, and prompts technicians on whether they should be referred to a hospital or not.

“Diabetic retinopathy is tricky because there are no early signs. That’s why screening is the only way to detect the complication early and prevent diabetic blindness,” said Dr. S Natarajan, ophthalmologist at AJFTLE, to the newspaper.

Diabetic retinopathy is a most common diabetic eye disease. It damages the blood vessels in light-sensitive tissue at the back of the retina resulting in blurred vision or impaired colour vision in some patients.

“There are an estimated 73 million diabetics in the country. Of these, nearly 25% are at the risk of diabetic retinopathy,” said Dr. Natarajan.

Besides diabetic retinopathy, 97 patients were diagnosed with cataract, and 69 had other eye diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“The AI diagnosis cannot be termed as the last word. Thus, the diagnosis is verified by an ophthalmologist when the patient is referred further. But this is an excellent tool to indicate the risk of retinopathy in patients.” said Dr. Radhika Krishnan, chief executive officer, AJFTLE.

The initiative of diabetic retinopathy screening is now in the process of expanding to 60 civic dispensaries in Mumbai, he said.