Flaum Eye Institute Joins International Microsoft Intelligence Network for Eyecare

Feb. 13, 2017

Eye Digital DataThis past December, the LV Prasad Eye Institute and Microsoft India launched the Microsoft Intelligence Network for Eyecare (MINE), an international consortium of research institutions aimed at improving eye care worldwide. The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Flaum Eye Institute is one of five institutions partnering with Microsoft to share data and apply artificial intelligence to better understand eye diseases and improve eye care delivery around the world.

"The Flaum Eye Institute is proud and excited to be a part of this international network,” said Steven E. Feldon, M.D., M.B.A., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. “The network will offer great opportunities to leverage data science and preventative medicine to improve vision worldwide, which aligns with several elements of University of Rochester and URMC strategic plans."

MINE will allow Flaum Eye Institute researchers to share Electronic Health Record information with partners at LV Prasad Eye Institute (India), Bascom Palmer - University of Miami (USA), Federal University of Sao Paolo (Brazil), and Brien Holden Vision Institute (Australia). Not only will this vastly increase the volume of data at each institution’s disposal, but will also add geographic, socioeconomic, and genetic diversity.  

In addition to sharing data, MINE will provide each partner institution with access to a trove of Microsoft analytical tools, which utilize machine learning to determine patterns and predict outcomes in eye care.

“A lot of institutions don't have access to these Microsoft tools,” said Rajeev S. Ramchandran, M.D., M.B.A., associate professor of Ophthalmology at URMC. “This helps democratize or level the playing field - not only sharing data, but also sharing the tools to analyze it.”

Each MINE partner institution will lead an initiative through the network. These include understanding the conditions that impact children’s eyesight and why nearsightedness in children is on the rise globally, predicting patient outcomes after refractive surgeries, like LASIK, and developing optimal and personalized surgical procedures. 

The Flaum Eye Institute’s initiative centers on Ramchandran’s research. He aims to automate detection of diabetic eye disease, which is the leading cause of blindness in the working age population in the US. Ramchandran has special cameras set up in primary care offices across the country and has collected many images of diabetic patients’ eyes. Through MINE, he plans to apply machine learning to these images and others collected by partners in the network to see if a computer can pick out the subtle signs of diabetic eye disease better and faster than humans can.      

Ramchandran’s goal underlines a major goal of MINE: to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to supplement or surpass human capacity to improve eye care. Ultimately, LV Prasad Eye Institute and Microsoft developed this network in hopes of eliminating the 285 million cases of avoidable blindness that exist worldwide today. 


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