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Smartphones and AI - The Future of DR Screening

May 02, 2019  · 2 min read

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is prevalent among approximately one third of the adult population living with diabetes and occurs when chronic high blood glucose levels lead to damage of capillaries in the retina. Despite the fact that DR continues to be the leading cause of preventable blindness, recommendations for regular screening are often not adhered too, leaving many aware of the illness only after they have started to experience vision loss.

Addressing this issue are researchers from the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center which have revealed an innovative approach to increase the accessibility of DR Screening through pairing Smartphone Technology with Artificial Intelligence (AI) software.

“The key to preventing DR-related vision loss is early detection through regular screening,” says Yannis Paulus, M.D., a Kellogg vitreoretinal surgeon and the study’s lead author.

“We think the key to that is bringing portable, easy-to-administer, reliable retinal screening to primary care doctors’ offices and health clinics.” - Yannis Paulus, M.D.

The repurposing of smartphones and the integration of AI helps mitigate a number of barriers often associated with DR screening, including the cost typically associated with traditional retinal cameras, which beyond their expense are also large and immovable. Furthermore, this technology significantly cuts down on the time it would take for an ophthalmologist to interpret retinal images, allowing for virtually instantaneous feedback.  These portable devices, which require no specific training to operate, would allow screening to take place in familiar clinical environments with only those who screen positive having to be refered for further ophthalmological care, ultimately deceasing the overall burden and wait times associated with these appointments.

"We're focused on overcoming patients' reluctance to seek DR screening by bringing it to them," Paulus says, "making it easy, immediate and available in a familiar clinical environment."

The AI Software paired with the Smartphone technology, EyeArt (developed by Eyenuk) has demonstrated exceptional performance in clinical trials and is the most extensively validated AI technology for the autonomous detection of Diabetic Retinopathy. 

To learn more about DR, join the DR Barometer community and connect with a network of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the vision health outcomes among people living with diabetes. In addition, use IFA’s expert centre to connect with IFA experts Prof Hans-Peter Hammes, an expert in the treatment of diabetes and its complications and Dr Focke Ziemssen, an expert in pharmacovigilance and diabetic retinopathy.

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