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AIRS-PC: Efficacy of Artificial Intelligence Retinopathy Screening in Primary Care

Project mission: 

Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Chan Medical School (UMass) are partnering to improve rates of screening for and detection of diabetic retinopathy by introducing a screening program within primary care practices, where most patients with diabetes get the majority of their care.


UMass has partnered with AEYE Health, a company based in Tel Aviv, Israel, that has successfully developed artificial intelligence algorithms capable of automatically analyzing fundus images and providing immediate identification of retinopathy changes with one of the highest sensitivities and specificities currently available. Using handheld, non-mydriatic fundus cameras and AEYE Health’s screening algorithm, the research team will provide convenient and effective eye screenings during a patient’s regularly scheduled primary care appointment.

At UMass, a team from family medicine and ophthalmology has developed an efficient interface to

  1. securely obtain retinal images with a handheld camera,
  2. upload them to the electronic health record (Epic) and then to a cloud-based server for
  3. analysis and reporting of the screening assessment for review and,
  4. if necessary, referral to an eye care provider by the primary care physician.

This collaboration will resolve a longstanding substantial care gap in our patients, many of whom do not receive their recommended yearly eye exam.

Study goal:

The departments intend to assess the effect of primary care based screening in pilot sites as well as the sensitivity and specificity of the AEYE algorithm compared to optometrists or ophthalmologists. If the pilot analysis is favorable, the research team anticipates that this project will expand to a system-wide intervention in other family medicine and internal medicine practices, as well as the Diabetes Center of Excellence.

Related resources:

Predicting the future development of diabetic retinopathy using a deep learning algorithm for the analysis of non-invasive retinal imaging

Worcester Business Journal - publication from July 15, 2020

CISION: PR Newswire. UMass Chan Medical School and AEYE Health leverage AI to help family doctors screen and refer patients with eye conditions to specialists. Publication from March, 30, 2021

EYEWIRE: UMass Chan Medical School and AEYE Health Leverage AI to Help Family Doctors Screen and Refer Patients With Eye Conditions to Specialists. Publication from March, 30, 2021.

The times of Israel: Seeing straight with the help of artificial intelligence. Publication from March 2, 2022

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James Ledwith, MD, FAAFP

Project PI

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Juan Ding, OD, PhD

Project PI

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Emma Wood

Research coordinator

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