Accurate, automated retinal screening is an important development for the millions of diabetic patients who require annual examination for sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy. New research, presented at the 123rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (12–15 October 2019, CA, USA) – demonstrates that an automated, artificial intelligence (AI) screening system can detect diabetic retinopathy with more than 95% accuracy. Approximately 25% of diabetic individuals in the USA will develop retinopathy. Initially, such retinal damage may be asymptomatic, but can ultimately lead to blindness. There are various options available for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, however, early diagnosis significantly improves treatment effectiveness.
The AI-powered, cloud-based system will be available for use by primary care providers. Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, and diabetic retinopathy--which occurs when blood sugar levels result in damage to retinal blood vessels--is considered mostly preventable. Still, it causes vision loss in tens of thousands of people each year and is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans. "Many patients with diabetes are not adequately screened for diabetic retinopathy since about 50 percent of them do not see their eye doctor on a yearly basis," Malvina Eydelman, MD, said in the FDA's official announcement. She serves as director of the Division of Ophthalmic, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices at the agency's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
Diabetes is a hell of a disease. While many people view it as nothing more than the inability to eat sweets, it is actually much more devastating than just that. If untreated, having high glucose levels can wreak havoc on a patient's body -- these folks can go blind, have limbs amputated, or worst of all, die. Diabetic eye disease is caused by retinopathy. Affected diabetics can have small tears inside the eye, causing bleeding.
Data on the effectiveness of the artificial intelligence screening system EyeArt was presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Results of the study examining EyeArt revealed the system had the ability to accurately predict diabetic retinopathy 95.5% of the time, without the input of an ophthalmologist, and in less than a minute. With the diabetes epidemic continuing to plague patient populations in the US and across the globe--and 1 in 4 diabetics developing diabetic retinopathy--investigators sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the artificial intelligence screening system in a group of 893 patients. Led by Srinivas Sadda, MD, of the Doheny Eye Institute at UCLA, investigators conducted the study at 15 different centers across the US. For inclusion in the study, patients needed to have a diagnosis pf diabetes mellitus, be at least 18 years of age, and provide written informed consent.