Artificial intelligence can diagnose eye disease as accurately as some leading experts, research suggests. A study by Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and the Google company DeepMind found that a machine could learn to read complex eye scans and detect more than 50 eye conditions.

Doctors hope artificial intelligence could soon play a major role in helping to identify patients who need urgent treatment. They hope it will also reduce delays.

A team at DeepMind, based in London, created an algorithm, or mathematical set of rules, to enable a computer to analyse optical coherence tomography (OCT), a high resolution 3D scan of the back of the eye. Thousands of scans were used to train the machine how to read the scans.

Then, artificial intelligence was pitted against humans. The computer was asked to give a diagnosis in the cases of 1,000 patients whose clinical outcomes were already known.

The same scans were shown to eight clinicians – four leading ophthalmologists and four optometrists. Each was asked to make one of four referrals: urgent, semi-urgent, routine and observation only. Read more from…

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