Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Preventing Blindness

Automated Medical Diagnostics (AMDx) a start-up company based in Memphis Tennessee has developed a new technology using Telemedical Retinal Image Analysis and Diagnosis (TRIAD) to help millions of people at risk for vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. This technology was recently licensed by AMDx from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Edward Chaum, an ophthalmologist and Plough Foundation professor of retinal diseases at the UT Health Science Center at the Hamilton Eye Institute in Memphis and Oak Ridge’s Ken Tobin both partners in AMDx, led the team to develop a way to use computers to aid in the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and other blinding eye diseases.

Chaum reports “Today, less than half of Americans known to be diabetic receive the recommended yearly exam because they either can’t afford eye exams, lack access to eye care providers, or are unable to comply with physicians recommendations.”

He commented “In the next 15 years, we will need to be able to screen more than one million patients every day worldwide in order to detect and manage vision loss and blindness due to diabetes. By using automated computer-assisted diagnostic methods like TRIAD this is an achievable goal”

By using TRIAD, patients can quickly be screened for the disease in their primary care doctor’s office and at other remote sites, permitting early detection and referral for diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases.

The web-based technology uses a digital camera that takes pictures of the retina. At that point, the patient’s medical data and retinal images are sent to a server and processed through the patented system that quickly sorts through large databases and finds visually similar images representing equivalent states of diabetic eye disease.

This allows the patient to be diagnosed in seconds so patients know before they leave the office if they do not have an eye disease or if they need to follow up with a retinal specialist. With the TRIAD network, all of the computed diagnoses are sent to an ophthalmologist for review along with the computer-generated report.