Eye Health

New Zealand tech company develops tool to detect diseases like diabetes

New Zealand tech company develops tool to detect diseases like diabetes 768 512 Toku Eyes

Around 280,000 New Zealanders have diabetes, with the disease almost three times more common in Māori than non-Māori. And mortality rates for the disease are nine times higher for Māori aged 43-64 years than non-Māori.

Health experts say early screening is essential, but the problem is that just 35 percent of Māori opt-in for these checkups.

But a New Zealand tech company is hoping to help curb the problem as well as other diseases using its artificial intelligence platform THEIA.

Feast your eyes on THEIA, the latest eye imaging diagnostic device.

It’s a way to detect eye diseases and other diseases like diabetes.

With a retinal photo, the software uses hundreds of thousands of data points to give risk predictions, whereas currently to get that sort of diagnosis you need to go through multiple tests and doctor visits.

“I truly believe we can change eye care first and general health care second,” THEIA founder and CEO Dr Ehsan Vaghefi said.

That’s because the eye is the only external part of the body where we can photograph the blood vessels that feed vital organs. Combine this with THEIA and it’s a game-changer.

“We can look at the risk of diabetes in the eye and high cholesterol in the eye, and suddenly an image of your eye can tell us a lot about your general health and not just the eye,” Dr Vaghefi said.

Auckland ophthalmologist Dr David Squirell has been part of Aotearoa’s diabetic screening for over 15 years.

He said the technology is about as accurate as he can be and better than most junior doctors.

He said the artificial intelligence helps to identify those needing help urgently to adjust their lifestyle, diet or medication.

“Technology follows the patient, we want to make it easier for people to be screened because there are multiple barriers and one of them is just physical,” Dr Squirell said.

THEIA has the potential to expand existing screening capacity by around 50 percent and reduce labour costs by 30 percent

But for this Ngāi Tai descendant, it’s about better accessibility for Māori.

Diabetes is almost three times more common in Māori than in non-Māori.

“It’s completely portable and it can be run in any setting, it can be run in iwi community centres and the AI really gives us this ability to give the result without the need of a specialist,” chief commercial officer Francesca Logan said.

“We are having constructive conversations with the Ministry of Health and the Māori Health Authority and we are hoping that by next time that our technology will be accessible in many places across New Zealand,” Dr Vaghefi said.

Rather than a window to the soul, the eye is now the window to the future of your health.

NEWS – Newshub – Te Rina Kowhai
Article originally on www.newshub.co.nz

An easier way to detect diabetes through technology

An easier way to detect diabetes through technology 768 512 Toku Eyes

Detecting diabetes is about to get a whole lot easier.

A Kiwi company has created a revolutionary technology called THEIA, which uses AI to examine blood vessels in the eye to detect disease.

To explain the technology Jesse is joined by THEIA founder and CEO Dr Ehsan Vaghefi.

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan
Article originally on www.rnz.co.nz

AI tool detects early signs of eye disease

AI tool detects early signs of eye disease 1024 683 Toku Eyes

The trial of an Artificial Intelligence retinal screening tool, developed in New Zealand, showed it did not miss any referable disease for diabetic patients at risk of eye disorders.

THEIA has been created by Toku Eyes and was tested for diabetic retinopathy. Co-founder Ehsan Vaghefi says the tool is being further developed to vastly improve early detection of eye disease such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Its use was trialed at Counties Manukau DHB in its central and satellite units, as well as a private optometrist in Palmerston North.

More than 900 patients, who are part of the diabetic screening programme, had their de-identified images screened as usual by retinal specialists, as well as by THEIA.

The study, conducted between March and May of this year, found the AI did not miss any patients with more than mild or vision threatening disease and the level of agreement with the clinicians was between 91-98 percent.

Vaghefi says people wait around six weeks to get their results from the current screening process, but with THEIA they would get them instantly. He says the tool could expand existing screening capacity by 50 percent and reduce labour costs by nearly a third, allowing more patients to access these services, including those in under-served areas.

Diabetic retinography is a leading cause of blindness in working age people, but there are screening backlogs nationwide.

Jacob Benefield, optometrist at Naylor Palmer Optometry in Palmerston North, says:

“Toku Eyes shows how AI can really help increase proactive retinal screening, maximising the time optometrists and ophthalmologists can spend with patients whose needs are more complex. Putting this tool into the hands of lab technicians and medical imagers will expand screening services, ensuring more people are seen sooner and improving their chances of early detection of diseases like diabetes,” 

Toku Eyes recently raised $3.6 million from investors to advance the commercialisation of THEIA and is applying for FDA approval in the US. Vaghefi says the AI platform is designed to handle lower quality images and anyone can be trained to operate the necessary machine, freeing up the time of specialists to focus on the 15-20 percent of people who need a consultation.

The use of AI also makes screening more accessible to people who struggle to attend hospital appointments. He would like to see a national diabetic screening programme developed with satellite units nationwide, supervised from the centre.

If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.

NEWS – eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth
Article originally on www.hinz.org.nz