London based Moorfields Eye Hospital has teamed up with Google’s Deep Mind AI division to help prevent blindness.
The hospital will be using the technology to automatically detect eye diseases from a million anonymous eyes scans.
The AI capabilities built onto the system will be able to search and provide alerts for any early signs that indicate a patient might be developing some sort eye disease, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
By 2050, experts believe the number of people suffering from sight loss in the UK will top four million, double today’s figures.
However, experts believe thousands of cases can be prevented. For example, early detection of any signs of blindness in people with diabetes could help reduce cases by as much as 98%.
Google’s Deep Mind AI capabilities will be put to the test to help achieve this outcome. This is also the first time Deep Mind is using its machine learning capabilities in a healthcare project.
Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw, director of the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre in Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: "Our research with DeepMind has the potential to revolutionise the way professionals carry out eye tests and could lead to earlier detection and treatment of common eye diseases such as AMD.
"With sight loss predicted to double by the year 2050, it is vital we explore the use of cutting-edge technology to prevent eye disease."
Deep Mind was founded in 2010 in London, and later acquired in 2014 by Google in a £400m transaction.
Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind, said: "We set up DeepMind because we wanted to use AI to help solve some of society’s biggest challenges, and diabetic retinopathy is the fastest growing cause of blindness worldwide."
A Deep Mind Health arm was created in February this year and at the time the NHS allowed the company to access 1.6 million patient records for further studies in what caused much controversy and raised many data privacy questions.