Verily's algorithm helps prevent eye disease in India

It's the first time the algorithm has found use in the real world.

Verily's efforts to spot and prevent eye disease through algorithms are becoming more tangible. The Alphabet-owned company has revealed that its eye disease algorithm is seeing its first real-world use at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India. The clinic screens patients by imaging their eyes with a fundus camera (a low-power microscope with an attached cam) and sending the resulting pictures to the algorithm, which screens for diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Doctors could prevent the blindness that can come from these conditions by catching telltale signs they'd otherwise miss.

It's a small-scale deployment, but it could be vital in the country. India has a severe shortfall of eye doctors (about 100,00), Verily said, and only 6 million of the country's 72 million diabetics ever receive screening. This would reduce the workload on eye clinics and help them screen more people.

You could see expansion elsewhere in the future. Verily's algorithm just recently received a mark greenlighting the use of its AI algorithm in Europe, and the firm plans to expand its work "globally." It wants to be a mainstay of medical tech, and the India rollout is just a starting point.