Why would an ophthalmologist like Dr Pearse Keane be interested in working with an AI company?
Pearse was at the start of his NIHR Clinician Scientist Award to assess binocular optical coherence tomography (OCT), having recently completed his NIHR Clinical Lectureship. OCT was a new medical imaging device, similar to an ultrasound, which produces high resolution images of the back of an eye. These scans allow clinicians to diagnose conditions such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the single biggest cause of blindness in the UK. An early diagnosis means treatment can be given that saves sight.
“What drives me is the fact that some people lose sight because they can’t get seen and treated by an eye doctor quickly enough.”
However, thousands of OCT scans are undertaken each week at Moorfields alone, which provides a huge amount of data. These scans need to be analysed quickly, in order to understand which patients need treatment soonest. OCT scans also take place in high street opticians, and so in 2016 Moorfields had 7000 urgent wet AMD referrals, yet only 800 of these patients actually had wet AMD. So could AI detect wet AMD to allow doctors to prioritise the most at risk patients?
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