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US authorise autonomous AI to diagnose eye disease

US authorise autonomous AI to diagnose eye disease

Thursday 19 July 2018

It would seem that clinical diagnosis by machine is no longer a far-off vision of future health care, with the recent announcement that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved marketing of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect a form of eye disease without the assistance of an eye specialist. IDx-DR is software designed to detect Diabetic Retinopathy by the use of image interpretation. Images of a patient’s retina are taken with a special camera, and then uploaded to a cloud server, where they are evaluated using an algorithm. In trials involving 900 patients, the software accurately detected more than mild diabetic retinopathy 87.4% of the time, and less than mild diabetic retinopathy 89.5% of the time.

IDx-DR is one of several recent AI packages which are being taught how to diagnose disease. Earlier this year in the UK, the NHS announced a collaboration with Google’s DeepMind to use “deep learning” in order to diagnose eye disease (see our blog

However, using AI for diagnosis without specialist intervention is not without its problems, not least being the issue of responsibility. Who ultimately is to blame for a wrong diagnosis? One suspects such issues may just be resolved in various courtrooms over a period of time.


  1. FDA:
    FDA permits marketing of artificial intelligence-based device to detect certain diabetes-related eye problems.

  2. Science News:
    In the future, an AI may diagnose eye problems.


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