Detecting Diabetic Retinopathy with Artificial Intelligence
Between the ages of 20 and 65, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in industrialized countries and one of the primary eye conditions resulting from diabetes. In response to this situation, as part of the fAIr LAC Jalisco initiative, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB LAB), C Minds, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Guadalajara Campus), and the Jalisco Health Services led and developed the Retina-IA project.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina). In the early stages, retinopathy may have no symptoms or only mild vision problems, which is why an early diagnosis can make a difference.
From August 2021 to March 2022, a pilot program was implemented in health centers under the Jalisco Health Services, which consisted of a program for the prevention of diabetic retinopathy through telemedicine and artificial intelligence.
The objective of this intervention was to implement and document Artificial Intelligence projects that could assist in decision-making for social issues. This directly supported three primary health centers under the Jalisco Health Services: Yugoslavia, Paraísos del Colli, La Aurora, and La Esperanza.
The initiative was aimed at individuals with ophthalmological needs. A total of 1,053 individuals with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus, aged 18 and older, without prior diagnosis of retinopathy or specific treatment, were attended to. Diabetic retinopathy was timely detected in 359 men and 694 women.
Regarding the results of the estimated wait times for patient referrals:
From primary care facilities (1st level of health) to general hospitals (2nd level of health): at least 3 months.
From the 2nd level of health to high specialty hospitals (3rd level of health): between 4 to 6 months.
With this project, the waiting time from the 1st to the 3rd level could be reduced to just 1 month.
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