Google’s artificial intelligence subsidiary DeepMind is teaming up with the U.K.’s National Health Service for a new research initiative focusing on eye diseases.
The NHS will give Google access to a million anonymous eye scans. DeepMind will then have its computers analyze this data to identify certain eye defects, according to Bloomberg.
The hope is that this study will provide physicians with a digital tool that is capable of quickly diagnosing eye issues related to diabetes or macular degeneration, which are conditions that can eventually lead to vision loss, reported The Guardian.
“There’s so much at stake, particularly with diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes you’re 25 times more likely to go blind. If we can detect this, and get in there as early as possible, then 98 percent of the most severe visual loss might be prevented,” DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman told the newspaper.
It’s the first time that DeepMind is working on a project purely related to medical research, but it’s also the second partnership it has established with the NHS as well.
The company is involved in another project with the Royal Free hospital in North London where it’s using a smartphone app to monitor patient’s kidney functions. The focus is to use its algorithms to create a system that NHS hospitals can use to attend to patients at risk of death from kidney failure.
The combination of healthcare and artificial intelligence is becoming a growing interest from tech giants.
Last month, IBM unveiled a suite of tools aimed at improving how diabetes is prevented, diagnosed, and treated.