20th November 2018
Chinese AI promises hope for short-sighted children
Will your kids be short-sighted? A Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) model made from millions of eyesight records could help to predict whether they’ll be needing glasses.
Myopia is the most common visual impairment in children. China has an unprecedented rate of nearsightedness. A recent World Health Organization report showed about 600 million Chinese, almost half the population, are short-sighted, including more than 70 percent of high school or college students and 40 percent of primary school children.
Current approaches to curb vision loss include eyedrops, glasses, contact lenses and surgery, which can be effective, but have side effects, such as higher recurrence rates, eye infections and other ailments.
If short-sightedness could be forecast, doctors could intervene with appropriate therapies to help reduce the risk of high myopia, which is measured by a focusing power at -6 diopters and above.
After analyzing 1.25 million eyesight records over three years, researchers from Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center of Sun Yat-sen University, have identified myopia development rules, and built an AI model to predict the condition in children and teenagers.
The study involved children aged 5 to 18 who had eyesight checks from 2005 to 2015 in eight of the largest ophthalmic centers in south China’s Guangdong Province.
The researchers discovered that nearsightedness usually occurs at age 7, and rapidly develops before 10. It can grow to -3 diopters in the teenage years and up to -6 diopters in the 20s.
There were few cases of high myopia among school-age children, and researchers did not find the onset or development age of high myopia.
Researchers used age, the diopter and annual myopia progression rate as the main variables to develop an algorithm to predict myopia degrees over 10 years and the possibility of high myopia before 18 years.