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Microsoft India launches AI eyecare research network

Will harness machine learning predictive models to tackle vision problems

Visual impairment 

Microsoft has teamed up with academic institutions from India, Brazil, Australia and the US for a partnership that will apply artificial intelligence to eyecare.

The Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) aims to tackle vision problems such as avoidable blindness by harnessing machine learning predictive models.

To do this they will bring datasets from around the world to produce predictive models for optimal surgery parameters as well as ways to personalise surgery and maximise its probability of success.

Other areas they will look at include the rate of change of myopia in children, conditions that impact children's eyesight and predictive outcomes of refractive surgery.

Anil Bhansali, Microsoft India (R&D) managing director, said: “MINE, a global collaboration, reinforces Microsoft's belief in the combined power of data, cloud and advanced analytics to drive public good.

“In our shared vision to eradicate preventive blindness, MINE will help redefine eyecare by bringing together the power of technology and knowledge of global experts.”

Machine learning is one of Microsoft's key focus areas and for its part the IT company will bring to the table its cloud platform technology Cortana to provide analytics and create AI models in eyecare.

The collaboration follows a similar path to that taken by Google, whose AI unit DeepMind last year partnered with the NHS to research the leading cause of blindness in the UK.

Alongside Microsoft India and Hyderabad's LV Prasad Eye Institute, MINE will involve Brazil's Federal University of Sao Paulo and the Brien Holden Vision Institute from Australia. Its other launch partners are, from the US, Bascom Palmer at the University of Miami and the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester.

But its focus on India is a logical one given that it's home to 55 million of the 285 million people currently living with visual impairment.

Dr G.N. Rao, founder-chair at the L V Prasad Eye Institute, said: “We are confident that this partnership will not only open doors to opportunities in the field of eyecare, but also pave way for others to leverage technology to address several other critical eye diseases.”

MINE builds on an earlier collaboration between Microsoft and the L V Prasad Eye Institute. This saw them work on a predictive model for eye operation regression rates to help doctors pinpoint which procedures were needed to prevent and treat visual impairments.

25th January 2017

From: Healthcare

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