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The algorithm can diagnose blinding eye diseases regardless of race

Glaucoma eye disease is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Early treatment often prevents this, but it is difficult to diagnose. In the Netherlands, the correct diagnosis is made on time in only half of the cases, and this percentage is much lower in many other countries.

35 percent better diagnosis

Three years ago, Hans Lemij (glaucoma specialist at Het Oogziekenhuis Rotterdam) and Koen Vermeer (former director and now consultant at the Rotterdam Eye Institute) began a plan to use artificial intelligence to detect glaucoma. This has now been achieved. The current version of the algorithm can diagnose glaucoma 35 percent better. This means that non-specialists can do this just as well as doctors who specialize in treating glaucoma. This could have a huge impact around the world.

Race doesn’t matter

The algorithm is fed images of over a hundred thousand eyes. Scientists used a representative mix of races for this. As a result, the AI ​​application works well with all patients, regardless of their origin. A similar algorithm previously created in China was found to work well only for Chinese eyes.

Photo by the ophthalmologist

The research team expects that the algorithm will greatly improve the early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. In the future, for example, an ophthalmologist can take a picture of the eye, and then within a few minutes a computer will indicate whether a dreaded eye disease is present.

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