Case Study: Moorfields Eye Hospital and DeepMind collaborative

As part of our continuing Tomorrow’s Patient campaign, DigitalHealth.London profiles the medical research partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital and Google DeepMind; potentially revolutionising the way professionals carry out eye tests and leading to earlier detection of common eye diseases.

Health impact

Two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, of whom around 360,000 are registered blind or partially sighted. With the right treatment at the right time, many cases are preventable. For example, it is estimated that up to 98 per cent of sight loss resulting from diabetes can be prevented by early detection and treatment.

With the number of people suffering from sight loss in the UK predicted to double by 2050, London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and DeepMind Health will explore how cutting edge technologies can help medical research into eye diseases, as part of a research collaboration. This includes age-related macular degeneration and sight loss as a result of diabetes.

Introducing innovation

Eye health professionals use scans of patients’ eyes to detect and diagnose serious conditions and diseases. Many thousands of eye scans are performed around the UK every day, both in hospital eye clinics and in the community. For example, more than 3,000 optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans are performed every week at Moorfields Eye Hospital alone.

OCT scans are highly complex and require specialised training for eye health professionals to analyse. As a result, there are often significant delays in how quickly patients can be seen by a health professional to discuss their diagnosis and treatment. To date, traditional computer analysis tools have been unable to solve this problem.

As part of this research project, machine learning will be applied to one million anonymous eye scans, to look for early signs of eye conditions that humans might miss. It is hoped that this work will eventually help eye health professionals to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, leading to better treatment for patients living with eye conditions.

Meet the innovators

Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre in Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, says:

“Our research with DeepMind has the potential to revolutionise the way professionals carry out eye tests and could lead to earlier detection and treatment of common eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. With sight loss predicted to double by the year 2050 it is vital we explore the use of cutting-edge technology to prevent eye disease.”

Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind comments:

“We set up DeepMind because we wanted to use AI to help solve some of society’s biggest challenges, and diabetic retinopathy is the fastest growing cause of blindness worldwide. There are more than 350 million sufferers across the planet. Detecting eye diseases as early as possible gives patients the best possible chance of getting the right treatments. I really believe that one day this work will be a great benefit to patients across the NHS. We are proud of our NHS, and this is one of the ways I think we can help nurses and doctors continue to provide world-class care.”

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