It is exciting to attend the second annual Asia-Pacific Tele-Ophthalmology Society (APTOS) symposium in Hong Kong. The next few years promises quantum leaps in providing access to specialist eye care for regional and remote patients. We are hearing from the very best minds in the world just how close we are to achieving this by using artificial intelligence. It is amazing to see how technology really is overcoming the tyranny of distance suffered by people in the far reaches of our beautiful country. For anyone with diabetes who has had to travel a 1000kms (or more) for an eye examination, I am sure this is welcome news.
During the symposium ophthalmologists from China, the USA, India, Nepal and Australia presented on how things are developing in this field and what challenges we face. We heard from software and hardware engineers how anything is possible with the right levels of collaboration. We viewed presentations from Google and Apple which provides hope that collectively we can tackle the health related issues created by a growing population.
At NQ Eye Specialists, our patients travel from all corners of the state, not to mention those from interstate, to seek care. We are always looking for better ways to minimise such extensive travel. Our hope is that some day soon we can use this technology to better serve our patients from afar.
Further things worth keeping a watch on are:
CNNs – These are a type of Artificial Intelligence known as Convolutional Neural Networks and are the very basis of what we are using to create machines that learn. For example a machine that can look at a photograph of the retina of someone with diabetes and tell that person just how severe their diabetes is.
Google DeepMind – This is Google’s project to create a machine so smart that it can mimic the human brain. Ambitious but exciting prospect. Recently this machine was able to beat the worlds best player in the worlds most complex game “Go”.
Seeing AI – This is an application just released by Microsoft (sadly not yet in Australia but watch this space) which helps the blind to see by explaining what they are pointing their smart phone at. What a game changer for so many people who have lost their sight.
So brace yourself for the brave new world that is coming in the world of tele-ophthalmology and rest assured that we are doing our best to stay abreast of all the opportunities that are coming.