In America, there is an increase in the diabetes population every year. Diabetes takes much away from its victims by limiting their food options. Diabetes also causes several health conditions to occur along with the initial disease. If left untreated, a diabetic individual is more likely to develop afflictions such as heart disease and in extreme cases, loss of limbs. Another major bodily function that is disrupted by diabetes would be vision. The eyes of a diabetic person are more at risk than the average healthy individual. This problem is so common that “eye doctors recommend that anyone with diabetes get a dilated eye exam at least once a year to check for diabetic retinopathy, even if you don’t have any vision-related symptoms. “You can have severe disease but not be aware of any changes to the eyes,” says Dr. Lloyd P. Aiello, director of the Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston” (Vanessa Caceres). The human eye is a very sensitive organ that is necessary for natural everyday functions. Although the eye may be sensitive, the rest of the human body is not as responsive. Trained medical professionals have been utilizing new technologies in an effort to further the progression of accurate eye examinations. No longer science fiction, these new technological practices are being tested and put into use each day. One of these new technologies include the now practical use of “artificial intelligence”. Unknown to most, “this deep learning technology is the same artificial intelligence that name-brand tech companies, such as Google and Facebook use in their own software,” says Dr. Alan Mendelsohn of Eye Surgeons & Consultants in Hollywood, Florida” (Vanessa Caceres). Some of the most cutting edge technological companies in the world are producing products that involve the use of artificial intelligence. This advancement in the functionality of experimental technology can seem daunting for some, however, this technology can do much to benefit the world. This form of technology will be a much sought-after commodity in the future. These technologies would also be beneficial because of “the growing number of patients in the world who have diabetes, artificial intelligence is expected to play an increasing role in detecting who has diabetic retinopathy” (Vanessa Caceres). By understanding what artificial intelligence actually is, the negative stigma behind the practice can be dissolved. A further understanding of the current uses for artificial intelligence can benefit the diabetic community.
At one point in history, there was a technological revolution that advanced the world of electronic devices. Computer manufacturing companies had been developing near sentient technologies for only so long. As the “mobile revolution” continued to move forward, people wanted more products and devices that would make their lives easier. Science responded to the demand of world and the “robotic revolution” was conceived. Along with this new era came a wave of new technologies. For example, “Artificial intelligence is a kind of learning that can be taught to a machine, such as a computer. Nowadays, artificial intelligence, or AI, is used for facial recognition, handwriting recognition and speech recognition, among many other uses” (Vanessa Caceres). With this new technology, the possibilities for human advancement are endless. Each day, start-up companies as well as independent manufacturers are developing new products that solve several common issues. This technology goes beyond common consumer products, such as personal computers and cellular devices. The medical world has also done its research on the topic of artificial intelligence. More specifically, there have been several discoveries in the field of diabetic research. A lot of attention has been brought to the vision aspect of diabetic care. “Deep learning research in ophthalmology is underway to better identify lesions and other signs of diabetic retinopathy” (Vanessa Caceres). This technology is still relatively new and a small number of tests are still being conducted. However, physicians view this new technology as a major time saving option for their usual procedures. In fact, a majority of doctors claim that “if you have a machine or computer that says you don’t need to do anything or you need to do something, that could save a lot of time” (Dr. Julia A. Haller). Even with this technology being consistently utilized, the physical examination conducted by a licensed doctor is still necessary. Perhaps in the future this technology can be readily available for any individual.
Because artificial intelligence is so versatile, “the use of AI to analyze images of the retina seems so appealing and fits in with the already growing trend of telemedicine” (Vanessa Caceres). Telemedicine is another scientific medical facet that is quickly growing in popularity. The initial convenience of these “ready to use” medical devices is enticing to many. From a humanitarian perspective, these devices can do much good for the world. These tools, including the diabetic retinal scan technologies, can be useful “in locations with reduced access to care, such as rural communities and developing countries, primary care physicians have used telemedicine to photograph their patients’ retinas and send the images to ophthalmologists in other locales for backup diagnostics” (Mendelsohn). As of right now, this technology is an extremely efficient and productive source of medical information. Even though this technology appears to exceed the expectations of many medical professionals, there is still much to learn about artificial technology in the medical world.
As a new technology enters the market, there is an extensive series of tests that need to be conducted before that technology can be available to the public. As of today, there have been plenty of testimonials made by doctors who practice in this particular field of diabetic treatment. As more data is generated, more doctors agree that “this type of approach will be able to look at an image and grade it as well as our current graders and do it faster and possibly better” (Aiello). In some cases, this technology is recognized by its ability to provide a more accurate reading than a highly trained physician. Because of these new discoveries, more doctors are inclined to join in on this technological movement. Some experts predict that “at larger institutions, using AI to read photos of patients with diabetic retinopathy will likely become more predominant in the next five to 10 years”( Aiello). This statistic provides the public with a very small time-frame. This time frame indicates two potential correlations associated with diabetic retinopathy technology. The first correlation would exist between the accuracy of the diabetic retinopathy technology and the positive results it displays. The second correlation displays how far this technology is from being complete. Medical professionals state that “we find that for about 10 percent of our photos when we do screenings, they aren’t readable” (Dr. Julia A. Haller). Because this technology is so new, there are still a few accuracy problems that need to be solved. Currently, society is still dependent upon medical physicians to give a screening with a “personal touch”. A standard ophthalmologist appointment is important “in a face-to-face exam, your eye doctor can perform tests that help evaluate other important parts of eye health” (Vanessa Caceres). The results for an eye exam are vital because it could mean the difference between a diabetic person keeping or losing their eyesight.
The artificial intelligence technology used by ophthalmologist to screen for diabetic retinopathy is gaining a huge audience. This is because of the high level of convince that these new forms of technology can provide. In the very near future, “when you go to your pharmacy and do a blood pressure check, it doesn’t mean you can skip seeing your internist this year. There are limitations, and we still need physicians” (Dr. Julia A. Haller). With the assisted help of a medical physician, this technology is only becoming more accurate. Even though “artificial intelligence may one day help track your eye health if you have diabetes, the recommendations to follow now for better eye health remain the same” (Vanessa Caceres). With that knowledge, doctors and other physicians agree that a diabetic patient should “get a dilated eye exam once or twice a year. Only about 60 percent of patients with diabetes in the U.S. get this exam regularly” ( Aiello). Technology is still several years away from replacing physicians as primary care facilitators in the medical community. However, advancements are being made much faster than individuals realize. Soon enough, the technology of a concept will catch up with the concept itself.