The international health research centre or icddr,b has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) computer technology for the detection of diabetic retinopathy – a condition known to cause loss of vision in diabetic patients. In collaboration with Eyes For All PLC, United Arab Emirates and DIAGNOS Inc, Canada, the computer assisted technology will help to identify in advance the risk of the eye disease - diabetic retinopathy during screening services at the centre, officials said.
They said deployment of FLAIRE technology based Computer Assisted Retina Analysis (CARA) artificial intelligence platform services started its operation from Monday at icddr,b’s diagnostic centre located inDhaka. They mentioned CARA technology is a tele-ophthalmology technology that integrates with existing equipment (hardware and software) and processes at the point of care and comprises: image upload, image enhancement automated pre-screening, grading by a specialist.
CARA is accessible securely over the internet, and is compatible with all recognised image formats and brands of fundus cameras, and is electronic medical record compatible, officials added. It is a cost-effective tool for screening large numbers of patients, in real time and has been approved by regulatory authorities including Health Canada, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Union and others, they said.
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most severe complications of diabetes, which often leads to permanent blindness, if not detected and intervened early.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that there are about 6 million people suffering from diabetes in Bangladesh, while another 4 million people have undiagnosed diabetes.
Of all the people with diabetes 27 percent or about 1.8 million people, have some form of diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, IDF estimates that by the year 2045 Bangladesh will become one of ten countries to have a high number of people with diabetes (13.7 million). Co-founder of Eyes For All said Zahed Chowdhury said the introduction of this new technology will provide fast, accurate and precision based reporting and will help to render diabetic retinopathy screening services to a growing number of people with diabetes.
He said, “The mismatch between existing healthcare infrastructure and demand in the country means that DIAGNOS’s proprietary technology will make a tremendous difference to the lives of many people in the country”. Vice-president of sales at DIAGNOS Yves-Stéphane Couture said, “We are tremendously excited about the initiative with icddr,b and are looking forward to continuing our work with EFA to fight to prevent vision loss in Bangladesh and Asia”.
Dr Niyaz Ahmed, Senior Director, Laboratory Sciences & Services at icddr,b stressed the importance of early detection of diabetic retinopathy.
He said, we live in an exciting times when artificial intelligence is applied to such a wide range of applications including early detection of diabetic retinopathy. He mentioned we intend to take advantage of the benefit of AI in screening diabetic retinopathy early and cost effectively, so that we can reach out to more and more patients and help them tackle this growing problem. icddr,b diagnostic centre will offer screening for diabetic retinopathy at an affordable price every day from 8.30AM to 5.00 PM, and the report will be provided within 24 hours of the screening.