As an ophthalmologist, Michael D. Abramoff, M.D., had seen the consequences of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and other age-related eye diseases — all leading causes of blindness in America. He had an idea: Could autonomous artificial intelligence — similar to the software in IBM’s robot, Watson — make a difference?
Abramoff, 58, a University of Iowa professor, developed a breakthrough AI system for performing eye exams on people with diabetes. Called IDx-DR, the system can determine whether a test taker may have diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema. “Diabetic retinopathy is a giant problem,” he says. “We know how to treat it, but only 15 percent of people with diabetes get yearly tests” from an eye doctor.