Automated Image Analysis Software: Valuable Tools for the Future?

Digvijay Singh*

Automated Image Analysis Software: Valuable Tools for the Future?

Blindness causes significant disability and is associated with tremendous financial
and social burden. Recent studies have shown an increase in the common causes of preventable
blindness including irreversible diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. A study
published in Lancet in 2012, highlighted the rise in Disability Affected Life Years (DALYs)
between 1990 and 2010 by 160% for age related macular degeneration and 119% for glaucoma.

In parallel, there has been a relative reduction in the ophthalmologist to population ratio
as published in a recent article in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology in 2007. Developing
countries face a worse situation, where the Ophthalmologist to population ratio is a dismal 1:
several million depending. The situation is further compounded by the fact that in developing
countries, nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas while 70% of the ophthalmologists
are based in urban areas. Providing accessible eye care is therefore a challenging task.

The goal of vision 2020 is to eliminate preventable blindness by the year 2020 and
this mammoth endeavor is only possible with appropriate use of manpower and establishing
eye care facilities in the peripheral and rural areas through vision centers or primary health care
centers. Unlike the ophthalmologist to population ratio, which is rather dismal, the optometrist
to population ratio in developing countries is slightly better being in the order of 1:600,000,
though much worse than developed countries having a 1:10,000 ratio. This entails that, to
achieve the goal of eliminating blindness, the optometrists and ophthalmic technicians would
have to play a very significant role in disease screening and directing patients to the appropriate
eye care facility.

Ophthalmol Open J. 2016; 2(1): e5-e6. doi: 10.17140/OOJ-2-e005