Google launched in Thailand an artificial intelligence program to detect an eye disease related to diabetes that causes permanent blindness, in a country where the low number of eye doctors and the high consumption of sugar put at risk many people.
The visual assessment program in Thailand follows a similar one from Google in India and highlights the momentum of large technology companies to show the social benefits of new artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
“As a society, we have a responsibility to use artificial intelligence in the best possible way,” said Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president of global affairs, in a speech at a Google event in Bangkok on Thursday.
The Google program for diabetes in Thailand was announced in partnership with a state hospital in Rajavithi, following a joint study that revealed that the AI system has a 95 percent accuracy rate in detecting diseases, compared with 74 cent achieved by eye doctors.
The system analyzes the results of patients to assess whether they are at risk of vision loss, which would allow them to receive preventive treatment of problems such as diabetic retinopathy, one of the major causes of blindness.
Thailand is one of the largest sugar producers in the world and the high consumption of sweetener is common among its 69 million inhabitants.
The Thai government has launched campaigns to reduce excessive sugar intake, which can lead to diabetes and has made the diabetic eye disease test one of the country’s national health indicators since 2015.
Thailand has just over 1,400 eye doctors for its 5 million diabetic patients, all at risk of losing vision, Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, deputy director of Ravajithi Hospital, told reporters, adding that the program seeks to achieve a national eye control rate of 60 percent.
Also published on Medium.