OPTOMETRY Australia is urging patients not to abandon traditional comprehensive eye screenings in the wake of new artificial intelligence eye screening technology developed by the CSIRO to help detect diabetic retinopathy.
The new AI method of screening for the disease will soon be available for use in up to 20 Western Australian GP clinics following a recently completed trial of the technology in Midland as featured in CSIRO’S AI-driven diabetes innovation (Echo News, September 16).
The debilitating illness which diabetes sufferers can potentially contract is caused by damaged blood vessels within the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye and can lead to blindness.
The industry’s peak body, which represents approximately 90 per cent of Australian optometrists, maintains that a comprehensive eye examination performed by a qualified optometrist is still the best way to detect the disease.
“We are concerned that at risk patients will forgo regular comprehensive eye exams in favour of a single limited screening test at a GP clinic, which doesn’t check for other common eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma,” Luke Arundel, Optometry Australia’s resident optometrist said.
“We don’t want patients receiving these screenings to get a false sense of security about their eye health as only one of the many eye conditions affecting Australians is being assessed.
“Optometrists have the appropriate equipment and qualifications to thoroughly examine their patients’ eyes and are able to refer patients to an ophthalmologist for further treatment if required.
“In contrast the GP screening uses artificial intelligence to scan a photograph of only a narrow area at the back of the eye and provides a grading of the disease – which is then referred to an ophthalmologist.”
According to Mr Arundel early detection is critical to the prevention of blindness as 75 per cent of blindness is either treatable or preventable.
For more information on eye conditions and to find a local optometrist visit goodvision
By Andrew Carter