Seeing is believing

Written by Adam


EyesightAs we get older most of us need to resort to either contact lenses or specs to correct our vision.  However, there are many people who have health issues that have a direct effect on their eyesight – often with the potential of losing their sight altogether.  By the time the symptoms show up damage has already been done.

Now the NHS team at Moorfields Eye Hospital has partnered with Google Deepmind – the artificial intelligence research divisions of Google.  Moorfields has provided around a million eye scans to Deepmind for them to build a machine learning system that will recognise sight-threatening conditions from a digital scan of the retina.

Whilst retinal scans are relatively easy to carry out, they’re harder to interpret and this technology will allow much earlier detection of conditions such as diabetic retinopathy.  Patients with diabetes have a much, much higher likelihood of losing their sight – but early diagnosis can reduce this by up to 98%.

The technology being developed is a neural network and will enable diagnosis to take place earlier and more quickly.  This could mean thousands of people who will retain their vision and be able to live normal lives.

The scans provided have no patient identities attached so are anonymous, although there is some medical information relating to the patient’s condition included.

Does computer use damage your eyes

There’s no evidence that prolonged use of a screen will harm your eyesight, but using a screen all day every day can affect your health in other ways.  This is our advice:

To keep your eye muscles in good condition and reduce the need for specs later in life, take a 5 minute break every hour or so (which also helps to improve concentration and getting up and moving about helps you to avoid joint problems). Do a focus exercise by looking at something close to you (like a finger held up a few inches in front of your face), then focus on something far away.  Repeat this a few times – it’s like eye-gym!  Deepak Chopra recommends it as part of a regime to keep people young.

Ensure your screen is positioned correctly – ideally with eye-level about one third down from the top of the screen.  This won’t just help your eyes, but will have an impact on your back and shoulders and help you to maintain better posture.

Check your lighting.  Just because the screen emits its own light doesn’t mean that you should work without any other light when natural light fades.  A well-lit working environment will help you to avoid eye strain.  This app adjusts the colour and brightness on the screen when the sun goes down.

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