DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Kettering Health has introduced an artificial intelligence that can prevent people from going blind.

The leading cause of blindness in the working-age population, diabetic retinopathy is a disease that damages the blood vessels in the tissue of the retina. It is caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to a release.

Until now, an annual screening with an eye doctor was the only way to identify signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Artificial intelligence now has the ability to analyze images taken of the eye to determine if a patient needs referral to an ophthalmologist, the release states.

Dr. Dennis Anthony, internal medicine physician at Kettering Physician Network’s Walden Ponds Primary Care, advocates for the use of this technology.

“Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy is critical to preventing blindness. Traditionally it has been a challenge to get patients to schedule and keep another appointment with an eyecare provider for their annual retinopathy screening exam,” Dr. Anthony said.

“By integrating AI screening technology into our patients’ regular office visit, we are able to close that care gap. This testing reassures those patients that are negative and educates and refers those patients that are positive for retinopathy to skilled ophthalmologists for appropriate care before their vision is compromised.” 

Kettering Health primary care providers can conduct these screening in their offices.