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Google AI helping with eye diseases

Google wants to help ophthalmologists everywhere diagnose common eye diseases earlier, and it’s employing its artificial intelligence to get there. The tech giant recently announced that it has partnered up with the NHS Moorfields Eye Hospital to that purpose.

The hospital will provide Google’s DeepMind with a million of anonymous eye scans, over the course of five years. Besides being anonymous, the scans are also historic, taken some time in the past.

DeepMind will then analyse those scans to learn everything it can about eye diseases and hopefully, help doctors in the future diagnose common diseases, like diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration easier and faster.

Google says that pretty much all sight loss (98 per cent) which occurs as a result of diabetes, is preventable.

According to Ars Technica, there are two million people with sight loss in the UK, including 360,000 blind, or partially sighted. Some estimates, it also says, that the number will double by 2050.

There are two kinds of eye scans which will be made available for DeepMind: traditional fundus images (photos of the retina), and the optical coherence tomography (OCT) – a cross-section of the retina.

“OCT scans are highly complex and require specialised training for doctors and other eye health professionals to analyse,” says the DeepMind site.

“As a result, there are often significant delays in how quickly patients can be seen to discuss their diagnosis and treatment. To date, traditional computer analysis tools have been unable to solve this problem.”

Image Credit: Asif Islam / Shutterstock