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New Tricks for Finding Hidden Eye Disease

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An imaging analysis technique, developed to detect defects in semiconductors, is being used to diagnose the eye problems associated with diabetes over the Internet.
Pictures of patientsretinas (the inner surface of the eye) are uploaded to a server that compares them to a database of thousands of other images of healthy and diseased eyes. Algorithms can assign a disease level to the new eye image by looking at factors such as damage to blood vessels.

Right now, an ophthalmologist double checks the system’s work, but the algorithms could be diagnosing patients on its own within three months. In other words, it will go beyond telemedicine, in which physicians connect to patients through data networks, to automated medicine.

There are many advantages to this — patients get faster, cheaper care and doctors can spend their time treating patients that have already been identified as having a problem.

Sources: Wired February 17, 2009

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