2020 VISION Magazine

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Smarter. Faster. Stronger. Artificial Intelligence is Shaping the Future of Eye Care —and Duke is Leading the Way BY LAURA ERTEL

Artificial intelligence (AI) leverages the growing power and speed of computers to solve complex problems. AI is transforming medical research and clinical practice—and ophthalmology is leading the way. “One of the most successful ways that AI has been applied recently is in the area of ‘computer vision,’ which is the assessment and interpretation of images,” explains Felipe Medeiros, MD, PhD, Joseph A.C. Wadsworth Professor of Ophthalmology. “We can apply sophisticated AI algorithms, such as ‘deep learning’ neural networks, which are capable of very complex pattern recognition tasks, to identify whether specific characteristics are present in an image or not.

“In ophthalmology we have a wealth of eye images—fundus photographs, optical coherence tomography (OCT), etc.—that are fundamental to the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of a number of eye diseases, so this field is ideally suited for deep learning applications,” says Medeiros, who is Duke Ophthalmology’s vice chair of technology and leads the clinical research unit. “The development of such applications has been increasing at an astounding rate. In several disciplines, including ophthalmology, researchers have proven that deep learning algorithms can actually outperform humans in some tasks.”