Dr Stuart Keel, Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Victoria

Up to 500,000 adults in Australia have vision impairment or blindness but it is estimated that 80% of vision loss is avoidable through early detection, prevention and treatment strategies. It is therefore very concerning that an estimated 50% of glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy cases in Australia go undiagnosed.

“Identification of eye diseases through a screening program is an important step towards the protection of visual function in the Australian population,” explains Dr Keel.

“Given that GPs are the cornerstone of primary care and 85% of the Australian population visit a GP service at least once every 12 months, they should have a central role to play in the opportunistic screening and identification of eye diseases.”

In this research, Dr Keel and his colleagues will develop an innovative screening system that combines portable retinal photography with AI grading in a portable system, to facilitate detection of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataract, in an opportunistic primary care setting. A real-world study of patient acceptability, accuracy and sensitivity will then be undertaken.

“Delays in diagnosis of common eye diseases dramatically increase the burden of vision loss in the Australian community and health care system.