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Is artificial intelligence a solution to the myopia pandemic?
  1. Li Lian Foo1,2,3,
  2. Marcus Ang1,2,3,
  3. Chee Wai Wong1,2,3,
  4. Kyoko Ohno-Matsui4,
  5. Seang-Mei Saw3,
  6. Tien Yin Wong1,2,3,
  7. Daniel S Ting1,2,3
  1. 1 Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore
  2. 2 Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Department, Duke-NUS, Singapore
  3. 3 Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore
  4. 4 Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Bunkyo-ku, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Daniel S Ting, Singapore National Eye Centre, 168751, Singapore; daniel.ting.s.w{at}

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been billed as a key component of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Currently, we are witnessing the growing shift of AI from theoretical ideations to practical applications in healthcare.1 2 Ophthalmology has emerged as one of the focal points of AI research.3–5 Current AI platforms are highly successful in screening for diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.6–11 Other fields including cataract screening are similarly producing promising results.12 13

The WHO has identified that least 1 billion suffer from vision impairment that is preventable or treatable—of which myopia is a significant factor. With its growing prevalence in East Asia and many parts of the world, the ‘myopia pandemic’ is estimated to affect 50% (4.7 billion) of the world’s population by 2050, with 10% (1 billion) having high myopia (≤−5.00 D).14–16 This could lead to a staggering number of myopic individuals at risk of developing blinding conditions including myopic macular degeneration (MMD) and macular neovascularisation (MNV).17 However, AI research efforts in the field of refractive errors,18 particularly myopia19 are still relatively under-developed (table 1).

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Table 1

Summary of current Artificial Intelligence research in myopia

The global attention towards myopia has led to a renewed focus on prediction, prevention, prognostication, early control as well as diagnostic accuracy.20 Early identification of high-risk individuals and unhindered access to appropriate healthcare will be critical in stemming the myopic tide. This has led to greater emphasis to develop dedicated AI models to address these unmet needs, especially for different phenotypes of myopia—childhood and adult myopia (high and pathological myopia). Relevant considerations include age, population size of each segment and measurable dataset, resource allocation, potential social burden, …

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  • Correction notice This paper has been updated since it was published online. The second author's name has been corrected.

  • Contributors LLF, HNMA, CWW, KO-M, S-MS, TYW, DST were involved in the drafting, review and revision of manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests TYW and DST hold patent for deep learning system in detection of eye diseases and retinal vessels.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.