Microsoft use machine learning to help eye care in India

Tech giants such as Google and IBM have made headlines in the last few years with their forays into healthcare, with a number of AI driven solutions to make sense of large quantities of data.

They’re not the only tech giant with a stake in this game however, with a recent project between Microsoft and the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in India highlighting the progress being made by the Redmond company.

The pair have been working together to utilize artificial intelligence in the analysis of patients coming to LVPEI for eye surgery.  Microsoft researchers examined 1.1 million data files to explore just how blindness spreads throughout the country.

Successful surgery

The resultant algorithm was able to predict the likelihood of surgical success in the eye operations conducted at the facilities, although Microsoft were reluctant to share just how accurate they eventually were.  They were, however, keen to expand the program to other institutions, with announced partnerships with Bascom Palmer – University of Miami, Flaum Eye Institute – University of Rochester (USA), Federal University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), and Brien Holden Vision Institute (Australia).

This will see a broader range of data analyzed from across countries to try and gain richer insights into vision impairment and eye disease, with the ultimate aim of creating models to predict eye problems very early on.

The team hope that if they can identify the conditions that lead to eye problems that preventative measures can be taken.  They also believe they can confidently predict the outcome of refractive surgery.

India is a natural place to begin these investigations as the country accounts for some 55 million of the 285 million eye disease cases around the world.

The volume of patients in India make it a natural environment for testing out the new, machine learning based solutions being developed by tech companies around the world.  The country has also been an active test bed for IBM, who have deployed Watson at six Manipal hospitals to try and help doctors provide more personalized cancer care to patients.

It’s not quite the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, but it is interesting work nonetheless.  Check out the video below to see more about the work Microsoft and LVPEI are doing.



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