icddr,b launches artificial intelligence based diabetic retinopathy detection

Dhaka, 13 May 2015: Today, icddr,b in collaboration with Eyes For All PLC, United Arab Emirates and DIAGNOS Inc, Canada have launched an artificial intelligence (AI) based technology for the detection of diabetic retinopathy in Bangladesh. Deployment of the industry leading FLAIRE technology based Computer Assisted Retina Analysis (CARA) artificial intelligence platform will commence its operation from tomorrow14 May 2019 at icddr,b’s diagnostic centre located in Mohakhali, Dhaka.

CARA is a tele-ophthalmology technology that integrates with existing equipment (hardware and software) and processes at the point of care and comprises: image upload, image enhancement automated pre-screening, grading by a specialist. CARA is accessible securely over the internet, and is compatible with all recognised image formats and brands of fundus cameras, and is electronic medical record compatible.  It is a cost-effective tool for screening large numbers of patients, in real time and has been approved by regulatory authorities including Health Canada, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Union and others.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most severe complications of diabetes, which often leads to permanent blindness, if not detected and intervened early. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that there are about 5.9 million people suffering from diabetes in Bangladesh, while another 3.9 million people have undiagnosed diabetes. Of all the people with diabetes 27%, about 1.8 million people, have some form of diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, IDF estimates that by the year 2045 Bangladesh will become one of ten countries to have a high number of people with diabetes (13.7 million).

The introduction of this new technology will provide fast, accurate and precision based reporting and will   help to render diabetic retinopathy screening services to a growing number of people with diabetes. Commenting on the initiative Mr Zahed Chowdhury, Co-founder of Eyes For All said, “The mismatch between existing healthcare infrastructure and demand in the country means that DIAGNOS’s proprietary technology will make a tremendous difference to the lives of many people in the country”.

While, Mr Yves-Stéphane Couture, vice-president of sales at DIAGNOS said, “We are tremendously excited about the initiative with icddr,b and are looking forward to continuing our work with EFA to fight to prevent vision loss in Bangladesh and Asia”.

Dr Niyaz Ahmed, Senior Director, Laboratory Sciences & Services at icddr,b stressed the importance of early detection of diabetic retinopathy, he said, “We live in an exciting times when artificial intelligence is applied to such a wide range of applications including early detection of diabetic retinopathy. We intend to take advantage of the benefit of AI in screening diabetic retinopathy early and cost effectively, so that we can reach out to more and more patients and help them tackle this growing problem”.

icddr,b diagnostic centre will offer screening for diabetic retinopathy at an affordable price everyday from 8.30AM to 5.00 PM, and the report will be provided within 24 hours of the screening.