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An Artificial Intelligence retinal screening tool, developed in New Zealand, is being used in 20 eye clinics in India and is about to launch in the United States.

THEIA has been created by Toku Eyes and provides diabetic screening to detect signs of eye disease. Clinical trials were held at Counties Manukau DHB in its central and satellite units, as well as a private optometrist in Palmerston North.

Co-founder Ehsan Vaghefi says the company has been working hard over the past year to convert the AI from a research tool into a medical product and it is now registered in India and the United States as such.

The medical product includes the development of a special camera to take the necessary images, clinical audit functionality and a platform to capture patient information and present the results to clinicians.

The new technology is now being used in the largest eye hospital chain in the world, Aravind in India, which sees around four million patients a year and performs around 500,000 eye surgeries.

“In a system of that scale, a tiny bit of technological advance introduces a lot of efficiencies,” explains Vaghefi.

He adds that the economies of scale of providing a medical Device-as-a-Service on the cloud with a large population are huge. While New Zealand does not have that scale, it benefits from the reduction in labour costs from not having a specialist view all screening images.

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.

Toky Eyes is also partnering with some US companies that provide screening stations, essentially providing the “brain behind the process”, Vaghefi says.

By the end of this year, THEIA is going to be operating in around 100 locations across a couple of states, rising to around 500 locations by the end of 2023.


Article originally published on

By: editor Rebecca McBeth