AI is a technology that is gaining popularity in the ophthalmology field. Its applications are varied, and there is a lot of research underway to see how it can improve patient care.
One of the main uses for AI is in screening for eye conditions. The goal is to catch early disease that could otherwise go undiagnosed and thereby increase a patient’s chances of treatment and better outcomes.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a common eye disease that can lead to blindness. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels in the back of your eye that nourish the retina.
During this stage, bleeding from damaged blood vessels can cause floaters or spots to appear in your vision. If there is a lot of blood loss, you may lose your vision altogether.
Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy (NPDR) As the disease progresses, blood vessels that should keep your retina healthy swell and change shape. These changes trigger diabetic macular edema, a condition that causes swelling in the center part of your retina called the macula.
Severe nonproliferative retinopathy If your diabetes gets worse, many of the blood vessels that should keep your retina healthy get blocked. Areas of your retina that can’t receive blood to stay healthy make special proteins that tell the body to grow new blood vessels.
AI-based systems have been shown to be better at detecting DR than human graders. They also have the potential to improve sensitivity and specificity, with the promise of reducing the burden on ophthalmologists.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-Related Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people over 50. This condition happens as the light-sensing cells in the macula, the small central area of the retina at the back of the eye, slowly break down.
The most common type of AMD is dry macular degeneration. This form usually doesn’t affect central vision but can make it hard to see the fine details of things.
Another type is wet macular degeneration. This is more serious and can quickly lead to total loss of central vision.
Wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid and blood underneath the macula. This causes a bulge and makes it difficult to see clearly in the center of the eye.
Wet AMD is treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF). It also may be used in combination with photodynamic therapy.
Cataracts are a type of eye disorder that develops as proteins clump together to form cloudy areas in the lens, which is a thin layer of tissue in the front of your eyes. Some cataracts occur naturally with aging, but other types can be congenital and result from a birth defect or developmental problems.
In ophthalmology, AI can be used to assist in the diagnosis of cataracts and other ocular abnormalities. For instance, AI-assisted telemedicine platforms may help overcome barriers to accessibility and provide preliminary diagnoses for patients with limited access to specialist centers.
Another potential application of AI in ophthalmology is to assist in intraoperative care. By recognizing surgical phases, elements (such as instruments) and other metrics, AI can improve operating theater workflow and support the surgeon in training.
In addition, AI can help optimize postoperative care. This includes reducing a patient’s reliance on OR staff and avoiding unnecessary complications, both of which could reduce the number of surgeries and costs.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and blindness. The disease can be either primary (occurring from birth) or secondary, which occurs due to another illness or condition.
It is typically asymptomatic until a patient experiences a sudden loss of vision, usually in the side or peripheral vision. It can happen slowly or rapidly, and can be caused by a number of factors.
There are many treatment options for glaucoma, including eye drops that either lower the creation of fluid or increase its flow out. Surgery can also be used, such as trabeculectomy, which creates a new channel to drain fluid.
AI has the potential to revolutionize screening, diagnosis, and classification of glaucoma. This could be done through the automated processing of large data sets, and by early detection of new disease patterns. It may also improve research aimed at understanding the development, progression, and treatment of glaucoma.