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Study: Google's AI system detects eye diseases with 94% accuracy

Deepmind Technologies Ltd.'s artificial intelligence system can diagnose eye conditions and refer patients for treatment, potentially providing earlier detection for conditions that can cause loss of eyesight, a study showed.

The study was conducted by Google LLC's Deepmind as part of a research collaboration with London-based Moorfields Eye Hospital. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. The early results show the system was able to quickly identify and make correct treatment referrals with an accuracy rate of 94% for over 50 diseases after analyzing eye scans.

According to DeepMind, the AI technology was developed to cut the turnaround time from conducting eye scans to getting the right treatment, particularly for cases involving patients with diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration. The technology's treatment referral feature aims to prioritize patients in need of urgent care before vision loss or irreversible damage occurs.

"If we can diagnose and treat eye conditions early, it gives us the best chance of saving people's sight," said Pearse Keane, a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Clinical trials will be carried out to further examine the technology's impact in patient care, researchers from Moorfields said. Regulatory approval is also needed before it can be launched for use in hospitals and other clinical settings.

"We're confident that, in time, this system could transform the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye disease," DeepMind said.