Vizag Hospital Launches AI for Advanced Eye Care

ByMartha R. Camara

Oct 10, 2022

Santosh Patnaik

Visakhapatnam: The Sankar Foundation, which runs specialist eye care hospitals in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam and a series of satellite referral clinics by partnering with optical shops for telemedicine and referral to major centers for major ailments, has taken steps to further improve processing through artificial intelligence.

The hospitals managed by the NGO, which performs 2,500 cataract and 100 retina procedures per month with the help of a strong team of 33 doctors and paramedics, have recruited several IT consultants to develop advanced treatment software.

The reference centers act as slit photography labs for efficient interpretation of multiple images. Mobile vans carry mobile fundus cameras, and smartphone fundus cameras are also used to review retinal images of patients to offer treatment at various locations not accessible in the hospital. If necessary, the foundation’s caregivers facilitate their passage to the main hospital for better care.

KBN Manimala, Managing Director and Group CEO, Sankar Foundation, told Bizz Buzz on Monday that a full-fledged AI system will be in place to deliver better treatment for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy in eight to nine months.

Experts believe that AI will help provide automated tools for ophthalmologists to diagnose and treat eye diseases. It should also give a big boost to the medical potential of major players in the post-pandemic digital world like IBM and Google.

Manimala stated the availability of reliable data from various case studies; research and algorithms are helping to better address the growing problems of glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. She said they had handled pediatric cataracts and strabismus procedures of which 600 children were born with cataracts. Their parents were also of the opinion that they were born blind. Only a routine examination determined the fact that they had the cataract problem.

Sankar Foundation is a super specialty eye hospital in Visakhapatnam that offers quality services in eye care management. Manimala informed that the Sankar Foundation has started research on AI and tele-ophthalmology in its operations to achieve global standards in eye care management. The hospital’s R&D department is working towards this goal using technological advances in ophthalmology under the leadership of Dr. T Ravindara, she said.

The highest surgical performance was also achieved under the guidance of Dr. Nasrin. She congratulated all the doctors and paramedics for the remarkable performance.

Manimala said that in a crowded country like India, the eye doctor to patient ratio stands at a measly 1:100,000. The fact that the country also has the highest number of visually impaired people in the world and 70% of the population lives in rural areas. It has been observed that nearly 88% of blindness cases are preventable, but lack of infrastructure, medical personnel and awareness delay timely treatment. To bring about a change in the situation, tele-ophthalmology services can be a viable option, she opined and added that with tele-ophthalmology, an ophthalmologist can provide consultations anywhere in the country.

She commended the state government for its continued support to the hospital, especially the government paramedical eye workers who are instrumental in the successful implementation of Dr. YSR Arogyasree.

On their achievements in the first half of the fiscal year, she said that Sankar Foundation, Visakhapatnam, a super specialty eye hospital and known for its quality eye care services, has achieved commendable performance in all types of surgeries eye surgery, including a large number of retinal surgeries and off-patient management. This was achieved through the committed efforts of all doctors and paramedics at the hospital, she said.

“We are pleased to report that Sankar Foundation Eye Hospital performed 17,357 eye surgeries in the first half of the current fiscal year, including 14,880 cataract surgeries (Aarogyasri 8922; 1997 specialty, including 1,106 on the retina),” Manimala informed.

Availability of reliable data from various case studies; research and algorithms better address the growing problems of glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy

– KBN Manimala, Managing Director and Group CEO, Sankar Foundation