How Artificial Intelligence can aid eye testing


How artificial intelligence can aid eye testing

      WHY IN NEWS:

A tool to detect diabetic retinopathy has been developed by Google and an international team of researchers

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Science and Technology


For PRELIMS it is important to understand the Principle and significance of this initiative.

For MAINS give your valuable thought to more such opportunistic screening.


A new addition to its long list of uses is a hi-tech screening tool developed by Google and an international team of researchers for detecting diabetic retinopathy a diabetic complication in the eye.

Specialised camera: A montage of images of the retina taken using fundus photography.


A study conducted at two eye care centres in India — Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai and Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai — which screened over 3,000 patients with diabetes, has shown that the AI’s performance exceeded the conventionally used manual grading method used to identify diabetic retinopathy .

A specialised retinal fundus camera was used to take photos of the eye.

“Usually this process needs to evaluate the retina of the patient.


In this technology they dilate the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye and illuminate the back of the eye.


In this fundus photography it is not necessary as a coherent beam of light can enter the small gap (Pupil) and take an image in just two to three minutes.


  • It is very easy to operate and the cost of the camera has also significantly reduced in the recent past.
  • Once the images are taken, it is fed into the computer and the AI tool screens it for diabetic retinopathy.
  • The AI had a specificity and sensitivity of around 90%.
  • In about two minutes, the patient can get their eye test report along with the other regular diabetic test reports.


“Diabetic patients are normally asymptomatic when the eye is concerned until the late stages or advanced stage when treatment is difficult or not so effective.

  • So it is important to find the patient at an early stage and help prevent loss of vision,” .
  • What we have deployed here is an opportunistic screening.
  • We placed the camera at the diabetologist’s clinic and trained their technician to take a picture of the back of the eye (retina) and upload it to the AI tool.


AI models can help detect breast cancer in mammography images more accurately than doctors.

AI can be a path forward to improve screenings for breast cancer and boost the chances of survival.”

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

According to the International Clinical Diabetic Retinopathy scale, the AI tool was taught to grade the severity (none, mild, moderate, severe or proliferative) and give an instant report along with the recommendations.

“When about 100 patients are screened, about 20 will have any level of diabetic retinopathy and only four to five might need intervention.

It would be great if we can have these opportunistic screenings at offices, railway stations or other public places.



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