Thursday, January 25, 2018

Harvard Researcher Uses AI to Tackle Common Cause of Childhood Blindness

Doctors can prevent one of the most common causes of blindness in young children — but only when they can detect it. The disease, called retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, affects the youngest, smallest and most vulnerable infants. These are preterm babies born before 31 weeks who weigh less than 2¾ pounds.

Doctors can treat ROP if they catch it early enough, but there’s no objective way to determine which cases need treatment. Jayashree Kalpathy-Cramer thinks AI can make a difference. Kalpathy-Cramer is a researcher at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She and her postdoctoral fellow, James Brown, are developing a GPU-accelerated deep learning system that could automatically determine the severity of the disease. “The main thing about ROP is that it’s preventable,” she said. “This is an area where deep learning can make a real difference.”