Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes that can lead to loss of vision. People living with diabetes aged over 12 years have access to annual eye screenings, where their retina is photographed to identify signs of retinopathy. Dr Paul Nderitu wants to use a type of artificial intelligence to develop a way to predict who is likely to develop retinopathy as early as possible, so people can get the treatment they need before damage is done.
Background to research
Diabetic retinopathy affects about a third of people living with diabetes and is the most common cause of loss of vision in adults. It happens when high blood sugar levels cause the blood vessels in the retina to become damaged and leaky. People with diabetes aged over 12 years have annual retinal screening appointments, to check for the development of retinopathy before it becomes severe.
Dr Nderitu wants to use deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence, to develop a new way to predict someone’s likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy over time. Dr Nderitu’s method will use data from images from the South East London Diabetic Eye Screening programme to fine tune the prediction tool.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
Spotting signs of diabetic retinopathy early is key to preventing loss of vision. If Dr Nderitu’s model works, it could help identify diabetic retinopathy even earlier than is currently possible, so that people can be given treatments and advice on lifestyle changes to preserve eye health and prevent retinopathy progressing.