DeepMind AI matches health experts at spotting eye diseases
According to the results of recently published research in the journal Nature Medicine, Artificial intelligence (AI) is at least as effective as experts, and sometimes more effective, in detecting 53 kinds of sight-threatening retinal diseases.

DeepMind (owned by Google's parent company Alphabet) in collaboration with the UK's Moorfields Eye Hospital has successfully developed a system that can analyze retinal scans and spot symptoms of sight-threatening eye diseases. The algorithms can quickly examine optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans and make diagnoses with the same accuracy as human clinicians. In addition, the system can show its workings, allowing eye care professionals to scrutinize the final assessment.

DeepMind's system uses two separate 'networks'. The first, called a segmentation network, converts the raw OCT scan into a 3D tissue map with clearly-defined, color-coded slices.
A second 'classification' network analyzes the 3D tissue map and makes decisions about what the diseases might be and how urgent they are for referral and treatment. It was trained on 14,884 tissue maps that were produced by the segmentation network and checked by a trained ophthalmologist and optometrist.

The two-stage process is unusual. A conventional AI system would start with the original retinal scan and go straight to the final diagnosis. DeepMind developed its tool this way so clinicians can check the tissue map and see how the AI came to its final conclusion.

The system needs to pass clinical trials and regulatory approval before it can be used on the frontlines of the NHS (National Health Service). DeepMind also wants to validate its results with further testing and refinements to the underlying algorithms. That, according to a senior clinician-scientist at Google DeepMind, could take another three to five years.

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