Microsoft launches AI network to fight blindness in India


Machine learning may not be able to solve all of our problems just yet, but it is starting to make significant strides in improving healthcare.

This week, Microsoft Corp. and India’s L V Prasad Eye Institute launched the Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare, or MINE, a machine learning network that will help doctors in India fight eye disease and reduce the risk of avoidable blindness. MINE will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and the Cortana Intelligence Suite to build predictive models that will enable faster, more accurate diagnoses of eye ailments and give doctors valuable insight into how to better treat specific conditions.

Microsoft’s new AI network combines eye care data and research from a consortium of some of the top eye health institutes from around the world, including Bascom Palmer at the University of Miami, Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester, the Federal University of Sao Paulo and the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Australia. Some of this data includes information specific to eye health in children, such as the rate of change of myopia in children and the conditions that impact children’s eyesight. Microsoft also hopes that MINE will be able to generate predictive models for eye surgery, allowing doctors to personalize treatment for each patient to maximize the chance for success.

In a statement, Microsoft noted that it has been using machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve life in India for some time, and it hopes that MINE will revolutionize eye care in the country.

“By using our capabilities and pioneering work in the field of machine learning over the years, Microsoft has helped accelerate digital transformation in various key sectors in India, including agriculture and education,” said Anil Bhansali, managing director of Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt. Ltd. “Today, I am happy to take forward the work we have done in healthcare with an esteemed set of partners. In our shared vision to eradicate preventive blindness, MINE will help redefine eye care by bringing together the power of technology and knowledge of global experts.”

Microsoft is not the only major tech firm using AI to empower better eyecare. Earlier this year, Google DeepMind announced a partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, which allows the hospital to use DeepMind’s powerful machine learning technology to review thousands of eye scans to catch early signs of eye disease.

Image courtesy of Microsoft and LV Prasad Eye Institute via YouTube