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Computers can effectively detect diabetes-related eye problems
Date:5/12/2010

likely have diabetes-related eye problems. An ophthalmologist (eye doctor) would have to check the eyes of all 100 patients to find out who had problems. The computer programs, when given photos of the eyes of the same 100 patients, flag on average 20 people as possibly having diabetes-related eye problems. Thus, an ophthalmologist would need to see only the 20 people prescreened by the computer program instead of the original 100.

"The computerized programs are accurate and allow ophthalmologists to spend time on patients who actually need care and provide better care to those patients. Also, through this technology, people with diabetes can have an opportunity for screening that they might not otherwise have," Abrmoff said.

Abrmoff noted the study had some limitations. For one, the images were prescreened to ensure the computers could analyze them. However, his research group has already developed the tools to automatically ensure adequate image quality before proceeding.

In addition, the number of people in the study who actually had diabetes-related eye problems was lower than what might be seen in other populations, such as people whose diabetes in not under control. Thus, Abrmoff said, it will be important to test the systems in other, larger groups. Last, the computer-based assessments were compared to assessments done by only one human reader at a time, which may not reflect a comparison to assessments by multiple readers.

"A computer alone will never be a substitute for the care of a good doctor, but it's exciting to think that computers can be partners in finding the patients at risk of blindness who should see an ophthalmologist," said study author Vinit Mahajan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences.

"In the United States alone, between 40 and 50 percent of people with diabetes are not getting the eye screening exams they need. We think these detection programs can meet this
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Contact: Becky Soglin
becky-soglin@uiowa.edu
319-356-7127
University of Iowa - Health Science
Source:Eurekalert

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