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22.11.19

NHS Trust introduces artificial intelligence for monitoring eye health

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has adopted artificial intelligence (AI) to test the health of patient’s eyes.

In collaboration with doctors at the trust, the University of Kent has developed AI computer software able to detect signs of eye disease.

Patients will benefit from a machine-based method that compares new images of the eye with previous patient images to monitor clinical signs and notify the doctor if their condition has worsened.

Nishal Patel, an Ophthalmology Consultant at the Trust and teacher at the University said:

“We are seeing more and more people with retinal disease and machines can help with some of the capacity issues faced by our department and others across the country. 

“We are not taking the job of a doctor away, but we are making it more efficient and at the same time helping determine how artificial intelligence will shape the future medicine.

“By automating some of the decisions, so that stable patients can be monitored and unstable patients treated earlier, we can offer better outcomes for our patients.” 

The software saves time and NHS resources by removing the need for face-to-face consultation if nothing has changed, and prompts a meeting in person if a condition has worsened.

Through the software, virtual clinics can be introduced, meaning that doctors can focus more on the patients with more serious conditions.

Senior lecturer Dr Stuart Gibson said:

“AI has completely revolutionised the way we approach computer vision research. Our team has considerable experience in this area, having previously developed AI for facial identification, detection of objects concealed in postal items and the identification of unknown substances.”

“The primary motivation for our work is to have a positive impact on society. Our project with Nishal Patel and the Trust has the potential to significantly improve patient care.”

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