In India, blindness caused by diabetes is a major problem, and in a hospital in the city of Madurai, artificial intelligence is used to combat it.
Providing a diagnosis to anticipate possible blindness caused by diabetes requires the study of a trained physician. The ophthalmologist performs a examination of the patient’s eyes looking at certain symptoms. Identifies small lesions, bleeding or discoloration. These are clues that can lead to a diagnosis of blindness caused by diabetes.
In India, that vast country of 1,339 million people (2017) has a problem with this process. It is none other than the shortage of qualified doctors. Without them there are no staff who can make the diagnosis and if the disease is not treated in time, those affected may lose their vision.
However, at Aravind Eye Hospital, in the southern city of Madurai, they have implemented a new method to make the diagnosis. It’s about artificial intelligence. Through this technology it would be possible to automate the diagnosis, so that doctors could go faster. The goal, without a doubt, is that an expert is not necessary to diagnose correctly. In this way, it would reach many cities and towns where the lack of access to ophthalmologists is pressing.
The artificial intelligence system comes from Alphabet, Google’s parent company and the health research company Truly. It is precisely this branch of the conglomerate that has developed the algorithm to diagnose blindness caused by diabetes. Its function is to evaluate the patient’s eye looking for certain patterns. They’re the same ones doctors try to see.
Obviously, the more you train the algorithm, the more prepared you will be to diagnose accurately. Hence the project at Aravind Eye Hospital is a test called to scale over time. And is that, in India there are about 70 million people with diabetesaccording to WHO data. All of them would be at risk of blindness.
India’s commitment to innovation
India has shown itself in recent years as a pioneer in the adoption of certain technologies. It had long explored the launch of space rockets, but the launch of the GSL MK III, in 2017, placed it in the first league of the aerospace industry. At the same time, he has accentuated his commitment to renewable energies. It reached its solar energy deployment targets four years in advance, to set itself much more ambitious new ones. In fact the largest solar parks are being built in this country.
For more practical application technologies, highlights the country’s digitization effort. By the way, e-government has relied on free software for its development. Even bold steps have been taken, such as the establishment of facial recognition to identify passengers at airports. An application of technology to reduce traffic jams in these facilities.
Images: J P Davidson, Kara Newhouse