Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from visual impairment. A new program from Microsoft utilizes machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence to help diagnose and treat the condition, according to a report from Mashable.
Earlier this year, Microsoft teamed with the not-for-profit LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in India, which provided the computing giant with access to more than one million anonymized medical records. Those records were tossed into Microsoft’s cloud-based machine learning program and processed.
The data gave Microsoft the ability to look through and analyze a wide range of procedures, providing a better understanding as to why a certain operation is chosen and the results of different surgeries for the eye patients.
Using its Azure machine learning program and Power BI service, Microsoft was able to use the data to help doctors make decisions. The company was able to relay to a doctor how much time a patient has until its visual degrades further. It was also able to predict how successful a given procedure might be.
While Microsoft hasn’t officially said just how success the program has been, it appears confident enough in the initiative to take it on the road.
The computing company is doubling up its efforts, launching programs at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester, Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Australia.
The partnerships will be extensions of the original collaboration with the LVPEI in India, with the institutes providing Microsoft with considerable swaths of data to process. Those sets of information, coming from unique geographic areas, will help Microsoft fine-tune its machine learning algorithms to create a more accurate predictive model.
The success of a program like Microsoft’s could be vital to improving the health of people around the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 285 million people are visually impaired, including 39 million who are blind. Eighty percent of visual impairments can be treated, WHO estimates.
Microsoft isn’t alone if its efforts to improve health outcomes through artificial intelligence. IBM’s popular Watson program has also been tapped to help diagnose and treat patients. The platform launched in six hospitals in India last year to provide physicians with its insight.