Since the first picture of the human retina in the 19th century, ophthalmic imaging has advanced by leaps and bounds. And for good reason: AI-powered technologies have helped vision professionals enhance medical image analysis, resulting in more precise diagnosis, treatment, and eyeglass prescription.
In this feature, we’ll find out what’s in store for AI in ophthalmic imaging, explaining how the technology can be instrumental in boosting patient outcomes. With automation as its ace card, artificial intelligence helps eye physicians with their struggle in detecting cystoid macular edemas (CME) that hamper a person’s vision. What does the whole process look like?
Accurate detection of macular cysts
Finding the exact boundaries of cysts is a daunting challenge, so the first step revolves around using denoising algorithms able to lower speckle noise in an image, while retaining cysts’ structural integrity. As the retina consists of a number of physical layers — each of them with different light-reflecting properties — AI performs retina layer segmentation.
Then, the process of anomaly detection takes place. First, the system identifies and classifies cyst seeds. Underpinned by these results, AI can with greater certainty locate the actual cyst, its textural features, as well as its relations with the surroundings. In turn, such an innovative approach empowers ophthalmologists to notably improve diagnostics, treatment—including operation planning — and further research.
Precise cataract surgery guidance
Replacing a patient’s cloudy lens with a new IOL (intraocular lens) is a complicated procedure that requires high accuracy and caution. So to achieve outstanding results, eye physicians build their trust in AI.
AI-fueled imaging helps them continuously track the position and orientation of the eye and its elements, being aware of eventual changes in relevant areas. Namely, surgeons can easily assess spherical eye bulb movements as well as cylinder directions, in case the patient suffers from astigmatism. Moreover, AI can spot where exactly the cut was made and the medical instruments were introduced, which enables further cut reuse and minimization of the overall number of cuts.
As a result, vision professionals are in a position to revamp the accuracy throughout the operation — including stages like introducing the instruments, breaking the corrupted lens, and placing new intraocular lens, — eliminate additional interventions, and avoid complications following the surgery.
Real-time tracking of eye disease evolution
Fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), indocyanine green chorioangiography (ICG), fundus autofluorescence (FAF) techniques — a lot goes into multimodal registration of medical images, but the rewards are worth it.
As some modalities perfectly deal with certain aspects about the eye and others are better in analyzing other pathologies, multi-modal registration of retina images allows eye health professionals to examine the problem area from different points of view. Previously processed by AI for noise reduction, images are overlaid one on another, with each of them capturing different zones of interest.
Moreover, taken at a different time, multimodal pictures are key to assessing disease progression or regression and understanding how specific treatment influenced the status of a patient’s pathology.
Wising up to technological advancements in ophthalmic imaging
Meticulous ophthalmic operations require highly accurate prior diagnostics, and nothing screams the optimal solutions louder than an AI-fueled medical image analysis. Technologically mature, this method takes things a step further, empowering eye health specialists to accelerate noise reduction for a more precise image analysis, resulting in accurate disease monitoring, enhanced treatment, and better patient outcomes.
Yana Yelina is a Technology Writer at Oxagile, a software development company based in New York. Her articles have been featured Becker’s Hospital Review, Medical News, Health Tech Zone, Healthcare Works Collective, Medgadget, to name a few. Yana is passionate about the untapped potential of technology and explores the perks it can bring businesses of every stripe. You can reach Yana at [email protected] or connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.