IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

DeepMind’s AI can detect eye disease as accurately as world-leading doctors

System jointly-developed with Moorfields Eye Hospital can analyse 3D scans and recommend treatment within seconds

woman having eye scan

DeepMind has announced its artificial intelligence (AI) system can now diagnose sight-threatening eye conditions as accurately as the world's best clinicians.

Working with London-based Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL's Institute of Ophthalmology, the results of the preliminary research, published in Nature, can pave the way for the rollout of AI systems in hospitals across the country, the Alphabet subsidiary has said.

The AI system aims to drastically reduce the time doctors spend studying thousands of optical coherence tomography (OCT) eye scans and can diagnose patients within seconds. Moreover, Moorfields Eye Hospital says the technology can recommend the best path of treatment for more than 50 diseases with 94% accuracy.

"The number of eye scans we're performing is growing at a pace much faster than human experts are able to interpret them," said Dr Pearse Keane, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

"There is a risk that this may cause delays in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases, which can be devastating for patients. The AI technology we're developing is designed to prioritise patients who need to be seen and treated urgently by a doctor or eye care professional.

"If we can diagnose and treat eye conditions early, it gives us the best chance of saving people's sight. With further research, it could lead to greater consistency and quality of care for patients with eye problems in the future."

OCT scans produce a 3D map of the back of the eyes, which trained clinicians must manually examine to identify the key features of eye diseases and make a diagnosis. Conventionally, they have been challenging to interpret, and have proven time-consuming, but DeepMind says its technology can analyse these scans within seconds and make recommendations instantly.

Clinicians studied the same OCT scans that were fed into the DeepMind system and made independent recommendations to establish whether the AI was making correct referrals. The study concluded this technology was able to make the correct referral with a very high level of accuracy.

How a user interacts with DeepMind's OCT viewer

The AI system has also been structured in such a way as to avoid the "black box problem" - given how important it will be for clinical staff and patients to understand how these decisions are reached. The system, which operates using two neural networks, shows visuals of the eye disease it has identified, and the level of confidence it has in its recommendations as a percentage.

"While we're incredibly proud of this progress, this initial research would need to be turned into a product and then undergo rigorous clinical trials and regulatory approval before being used in practice," DeepMind said.

"But we're confident that, in time, this system could transform the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye disease. Our partners at Moorfields want our research to help them improve care, reduce some of the strain on clinicians, and lower costs - all at the same time. So we've also worked hard on what comes next."

This milestone marks the end of the first phase of a partnership struck between Moorfields and DeepMind two years ago. DeepMind is hoping, following further research and approval, that its AI technology can be deployed in Moorfields' more than 30 UK hospitals and community clinics, serving 300,000 patients a year.

Featured Resources

The 3D skills report

Add 3D skills to your creative toolkits and play a sizeable role in the digital future

Free Download

The increasing need for environmental intelligence solutions

How sustainability has become a major business priority and is continuing to grow in importance

Free Download

2022 State of the multi-cloud report

What are the biggest multi-cloud motivations for decision-makers, and what are the leading challenges

Free Download

Solve global challenges with machine learning

Tackling our word's hardest problems with ML

Free Download

Recommended

Employees are choosing how they work
Whitepaper

Employees are choosing how they work

14 Nov 2022
Machine learning vs AI vs NLP
Business strategy

Machine learning vs AI vs NLP

8 Nov 2022
Subscription models will end in five years, claims Laiye at new system launch
Business strategy

Subscription models will end in five years, claims Laiye at new system launch

3 Nov 2022
The cyber security skills your business needs
Security

The cyber security skills your business needs

15 Sep 2022

Most Popular

Windows 10 users locked out of devices by unskippable Microsoft 365 advert
bugs

Windows 10 users locked out of devices by unskippable Microsoft 365 advert

3 Feb 2023
Why energy efficient technology is key to a sustainable business
Sponsored

Why energy efficient technology is key to a sustainable business

16 Jan 2023
What's powering Britain’s fibre broadband boom?
Network & Internet

What's powering Britain’s fibre broadband boom?

3 Feb 2023