Microsoft India launches global research group to develop AI-powered eye care

By Heather Mack
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Microsoft India is launching a research group that will leverage artificial intelligence to deliver large-scale eye care in collaboration with Hyderabad-based L V Prasad Eye Institute. The Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) will work with a consortium of research and technology institutions around the world, including the University of Miami, Federal University of Sao Paulo and Australia’s Brien Holden Vision Institute.

The idea is similar to Google DeepMind’s project, which targets the UK and works with their National Health Services to use artificial intelligence to detect and treat blindness-causing eye diseases. India is a logical jumping-off point for the project, as it is home to some 55 million of the world's 285 million people living with vision impairment. Using Microsoft’s cloud platform technology Cortana Intelligence Suite, MINE will collaborate and work from datasets of patients around the world to develop machine learning predictive models for vision impairment and eye disease, with the ultimate goal of eliminating avoidable blindness and scaling worldwide delivery of eye care services.

Children will be a big focus for the project, and the consortium will explore how machine learning can be used to study rate of change of myopia and other conditions that impact eyesight in children. The group also aims to develop predictive outcomes of refractive surgery and establish optimal surgery parameters for each individual.

“At LVPEI, we have been using Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and Power BI to drive clinical interventions and improve patient outcomes,” L V Prasad Eye Institute Founder-Chair Dr. G.N. Rao said in a statement.  “Today, we take great pride in taking forward our partnership with Microsoft and joining forces with global institutes to revolutionize the field of ophthalmology in India and across the world. We are confident that this partnership will not only open doors to opportunities in the field of eye care, but also pave way for others to leverage technology to address several other critical eye diseases.”

The group will also continue to bring in new organizations to work with Azure, Microsoft’s machine learning platform, as they go along.

“This unique partnership with LVPEI and the consortium brings the best in the field together to reimagine healthcare using machine learning through the Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Data Group Joseph Sirosh said in a statement. “We will continue to drive our investments in cloud, machine learning and advanced analytics to provide the building blocks to empower people and organizations to build, innovate and transform."