A Chines hospital on Thursday launched free consultations featuring artificial-intelligence (AI) cameras to detect eye diseases, which are major causes of blindness.
Deqing county hospital in Guangdong Province became the first to use the device, co-developed by China’s search engine Baidu and Sun Yat-sen University, to serve the general public, Baidu told Xinhua.
The instrument is capable of diagnosing three types of eye disorders — diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. It scans the eyes and generates a report in 10 seconds, all done without the need for an doctor to be present.
With an accuracy rate of 94 percent, it had previously been piloted in hospitals in nine Chinese provinces, according to Baidu.
Though it may be interpreted as AI making the doctors lose their jobs, Baidu said the new tool aimed to help cut the waiting line at the eye doctor’s short, especially in China’s rural regions.
Eye diseases are a major cause of blindness in the developing world, where the short supply of eye doctors and instruments make it difficult to check and treat in time. China, with a population of 1.39 billion, has only thousands of eye doctors capable of analyzing eye screening photos.
Xu Yanwu, a Baidu engineer developing the instrument, said the AI cameras were specifically designed to address the lack of medical instruments and eye doctors at grassroots health facilities.