Moorfields announces research partnership

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is excited to announce a new medical research partnership with DeepMind Health that could revolutionise the way professionals carry out eye tests and lead to earlier detection of common eye diseases.

Two million people are living with sight loss in the UK, of whom around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. At the moment, eye health professionals rely on digital scans of the eye to diagnose and determine the correct treatment for common eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

These scans are highly complex and to date, traditional analysis tools have been unable to explore them fully. It also takes eye health professionals a long time to analyse eye scans, which can have an impact on how quickly they can meet patients to discuss diagnosis and treatment.

DeepMind is a British company who want to address some of the toughest challenges in healthcare today, and make a difference by changing how technology works with the NHS. DeepMind and Moorfields Eye Hospital are collaborating on a research project to investigate how artificial intelligence could help to better analyse these scans, giving clinicians a better understanding of eye disease. They hope this will lead to earlier detection and treatment for patients and ultimately help to avoid cases of preventable eye disease.

Faster and more efficient diagnosis of eye disease could help prevent many thousands of cases of sight loss due to wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, which together affect more than 625,000 people in the UK.

Moorfields Eye Hospital will share approximately one million anonymised digital eye scans, used by eye health professionals to detect and diagnose eye conditions. Anonymous clinical diagnoses, information on the treatment of eye diseases, a model of the machine used to acquire the images and demographic information on age (shown to be associated with eye disease) is also being shared. This has been collected over time through routine care, which means it's not possible to identify any individual patients from the scans. And they're also historic scans, meaning that while the results of our research may be used to improve future care, they won't affect the care any of our patients receive today.

We are optimistic about the long-term potential for machine learning technology to help eye health professionals diagnose and treat other diseases that, like macular degeneration, affect the lives of millions of people across the world.

Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre in Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said:

Our research with DeepMind has the potential to revolutionise the way professionals carry out eye tests and could lead to earlier detection and treatment of common eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. With sight loss predicted to double by the year 2050 it is vital we explore the use of cutting-edge technology to prevent eye disease.

Mervyn Walker, Chair of Moorfields Eye Charity, said:

Moorfields Eye Charity is delighted to welcome this exciting development. By applying the latest technologies in conjunction with large data sets to the critical issues of ophthalmology, the partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and DeepMind no doubt has the potential to advance our understanding of eye disease, creating the potential for far earlier diagnosis and treatment to preserve sight, with enormous possible benefits for people living with common eye diseases such as AMD in the UK and across the globe.