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Artificial Intelligence Approved to Detect Adult Diabetes Related Eye Problems

April 13
18:24 2018

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Diabetes can affect anyone at any age, however, it seems to be more prevalent in adults as we age. Why? Because we tend to put on more weight, eat poorly and exercise less. The end result in the greater likelihood of developing diabetes as we reach 40, 50, 60 and older.

Most adults with the disease tend to suffer type 2 diabetes also known as adult-onset diabetes, a condition that can often be reversed by losing weight, watching one’s diet and exercising.

If left uncontrolled, type 2 diabetes can lead to a whole host of other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, stroke, neuropathy (nerve disease) and various forms of eye problems including blindness.

When I had a detached retina in my eye, the first question the eye doctor asked me was if I was diabetic. At the time, I had never been diagnosed as being diabetic or even prediabetic. The eye doctor explained that sudden retinal detachments in the absence of an impact-type injury are generally related to diabetes.

Diabetes can also increase one’s chance of developing cataracts and glaucoma. The high blood glucose levels can cause the small blood vessels in the eye to swell, leak and rupture, bleeding into the eye and blurring the vision. Worse yet, diabetes can increase the risk of developing what is known as diabetic retinopathy.

According to the American Diabetes Association:

“Diabetic retinopathy is the most frequent cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years. During the first two decades of disease, nearly all patients with type 1 diabetes and >60% of patients with type 2 diabetes have retinopathy. In the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy (WESDR), 3.6% of younger-onset patients (type 1 diabetes) and 1.6% of older-onset patients (type 2 diabetes) were legally blind. In the younger-onset group, 86% of blindness was attributable to diabetic retinopathy. In the older-onset group, in which other eye diseases were common, one-third of the cases of legal blindness were due to diabetic retinopathy.”

The FDA just approved a new diagnostic tool to help detect diabetic retinopathy, especially in the earlier stages. According to Dr. Malvina Eydelman, Director of the Division of Ophthalmic, Ear Nose and Throat Devices at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health:

“Early detection of retinopathy is an important part of managing care for the millions of people with diabetes, yet many patients with diabetes are not adequately screened for diabetic retinopathy since about 50 percent of them do not see their eye doctor on a yearly basis. Today’s decision permits the marketing of a novel artificial intelligence technology that can be used in a primary care doctor’s office. The FDA will continue to facilitate the availability of safe and effective digital health devices that may improve patient access to needed health care.”

According to the FDA report:

“The device, called IDx-DR, is a software program that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze images of the eye taken with a retinal camera called the Topcon NW400. A doctor uploads the digital images of the patient’s retinas to a cloud server on which IDx-DR software is installed. If the images are of sufficient quality, the software provides the doctor with one of two results: (1) ‘more than mild diabetic retinopathy detected: refer to an eye care professional’ or (2) ‘negative for more than mild diabetic retinopathy; rescreen in 12 months.’ If a positive result is detected, patients should see an eye care provider for further diagnostic evaluation and possible treatment as soon as possible.”

“IDx-DR is the first device authorized for marketing that provides a screening decision without the need for a clinician to also interpret the image or results, which makes it usable by health care providers who may not normally be involved in eye care.”

While the new artificial intelligence detection device can help save the vision of many, there are restrictions that the FDA is warning about:

“Patients who have a history of laser treatment, surgery or injections in the eye or who have any of the following conditions should not be screened for diabetic retinopathy with IDx-DR: persistent vision loss, blurred vision, floaters, previously diagnosed macular edema, severe non-proliferative retinopathy, proliferative retinopathy, radiation retinopathy or retinal vein occlusion. IDx-DR should not be used in patients with diabetes who are pregnant; diabetic retinopathy can progress very rapidly during pregnancy and IDx-DR is not intended to evaluate rapidly progressive diabetic retinopathy. IDx-DR is only designed to detect diabetic retinopathy, including macular edema; it should not be used to detect any other disease or condition. Patients will still need to get a complete eye examination at the age of 40 and at the age of 60 and also if they have any vision symptoms (for example, persistent vision loss, blurred vision or floaters).”

If you are a diabetic, you may want to ask your doctor or eye doctor about the new testing device and if you are a candidate or not. It could help save your vision or at least delay the possible loss of vision.

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HLA Staff

HLA Staff

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