Diabetic Retinopathy: Can Artificial Intelligence Provide a Better Way to Detect Disease?

by Linda Brookes, MSc

The recent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the first autonomous diagnostic system for the detection of diabetic retinopathy (DR)[1]—the IDx-DR (IDx, LLC; Coralville, Iowa)—appeared to signal the beginning of the inevitable advance of artificial intelligence (AI) toward replacing, rather than merely assisting, physicians in diagnosing diseases. Despite this possible threat, the initial reaction of eye care specialists and primary care physicians has been to welcome it as an addition to, but not a replacement for, the comprehensive eye examination—at least for now...

"I think AI can be applied very effectively in many cases, and if this tool can give a good interpretation for the back of the eye, then it will be very effective," Jay Shubrook, DO, professor in the department of primary care at Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine said. "But the key is to be able to ensure that it facilitates, not disrupts, the normal procedure of care. In addition, if you are trying to implement it in primary care, it has to be easy enough and not cause a loss of income."

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