An eye on AI

From supermarket checkouts to the warehouse factory floor, artificial intelligence is part of daily life in 2021. OT  explores its potential for eye health

face with code
Getty/ VioletaStoimenova

Scrutinising tea leaves, drawing from a deck of cards, holding a palm up to the light: for centuries communities have pioneered their own rituals for finding out what the future holds.

And now, in 2021, that human instinct to look to the horizon is being satisfied by technology without superstitions or fingerprints: artificial intelligence (AI).

So, what questions can we ask this technological crystal ball? What you will look like when you age, which team will win a football match and who will win the election are just some of the conundrums that AI has mulled over.

Within eye health specifically, AI can garner information from a fundus image that the most experienced clinicians would not be able to identify – such as their gender, cardiovascular risk factors and refractive error.

Researchers from Moorfields Eye Hospital, DeepMind, and Google Health have trained AI to predict whether a patient with wet AMD in one eye will develop the condition in their other eye.

OT recently spoke with Moorfields Eye Hospital consultant ophthalmologist, Konstantinos Balaskas, about AI that is being developed to grade geographic atrophy.

Balaskas shared that the technology can grade an image in 2.04 seconds – whereas the same task would take a human grader between 43 and 56 minutes. You can watch the full interview below.

Consultant ophthalmologist, Konstantinos Balaskas, talks to OT about developing AI to track geographic atrophy

For OT’s upcoming December/January edition, I spoke with locum optometrist, Kishan Devraj, who developed a chatbot incorporating AI for Moorfields Eye Hospital during lockdown.

While many people were eating takeaways and bingeing Netflix, Devraj created an artificial assistant so realistic that one patient involved in testing thought it was a real human.

“Before I started optometry, even during my A-levels, I found the technology interesting,” he shared with OT.

“Even back then, I thought ‘there is no limit to what you can build with technology’.”

Feel free to share your views with OT about your hopes and concerns around the future of AI by email.

OT  asks...

How do you feel about the potential of AI?
  • Excited

    18 42%
  • Uncertain

    15 35%
  • Confused

    0 0%
  • Worried

    5 11%
  • None of the above

    4 9%