A clinical trial at Western Eye Hospital, led by researchers from Imperial College London and University College London, has found an AI-supported test can help predict eye disease.
Using retinal imaging technology, the tool was able to identify areas of the eye that were showing signs of a common condition that causes reduced vision and blindness, known as geographic atrophy (GA).
After a clinical trial of 113 patients at Western Eye Hospital, the researchers believe that this technology could be used as a screening test for GA and help advance the development of new treatments for the disease. In this particularly study, the researchers found that the tool was able to predict GA three years in advance.
The study has been published in Progress in Retinal Eye Research and it is hoped the findings will help clinicians intervene with treatments to slow down vision loss and manage the condition at an early stage.
Professor Francesca Cordeiro, lead author of the study, an honorary consultant opthalmologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Professor of ophthalmology at Imperial College London, said: “Geographic atrophy is one of the leading causes of reduced vision, and in some cases blindness, in the developed world. It can significantly impact patients’ quality of life as tasks such as reading, driving and even recognising familiar faces become more difficult as the disease advances.
“As life expectancy in developed countries continues to increase, the incidence of GA has grown.
“Early detection is a key defence against this disease but as symptoms develop over several years, the condition is often picked up once the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.
“Our study is the first to show that DARC technology can be used to predict whether a patient is at risk of developing GA. These findings will help clinicians intervene with treatments to slow down vision loss and manage the condition at an early stage. We also hope that this technology can be rolled out onto high street opticians and used as a screening test in primary care settings.”
The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and supported by NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.
To read more about the study and a case study, please click here.