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Revolutionizing eye health: AI for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy

Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash

Diabetes significantly heightens the risk of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, which are leading causes of irreversible blindness. Diabetic retinopathy can be simply prevented from progressing from its early stages by controlling blood pressure and glucose levels. Regular screening for early detection of glaucoma can also help to prevent vision loss.

To help improve early detection of these problems in Ambergris Caye, Belize, researchers aim to implement new AI-driven screening tools while training local healthcare providers.

In 2018, the FDA approved an AI-driven device to screen for diabetic retinopathy without the need for clinician oversight. The research team aims to implement this tool along with an AI algorithm for glaucoma screening at the Stanford Belize Vision Clinic in Ambergris Caye. This clinic is managed by a small ophthalmic staff along with faculty and residents from medical institutions in the United States. It serves patients who would otherwise have to travel from the Caye to mainland Belize for specialized eye care.

Researchers also plan to extensively train the clinic’s current staff and recruit additional local personnel to establish a self-sustaining eye healthcare clinic. This clinic, they hope, will significantly decrease preventable blindness due to diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma in the region and hopefully influence similar projects worldwide.

Principal Investigators:

Ann Caroline Fisher, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Byers Eye Institute

David Myung, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Stanford School of Medicine, Byers Eye Institute

Research Team:

Houri Esmaeilkhanian, MD, Visiting Scholar, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Byers Eye Institute


Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, Stanford Medicine Department of Ophthalmology