November 16, 2023

AI in Ophthalmology: Canon Eye Care Director's Insights

In the rapidly evolving field of Ophthalmology, artificial intelligence (AI) stands at the forefront of transformation. During the recent 2023 EURETINA conference in Amsterdam, we had the unique opportunity to delve deep into this topic with the Director of Eye Care 5EMEA & CIS), Adel Bencheikh, at Canon Medical Systems Europe B.V, gaining insights from a manufacturer's perspective. The conversation highlighted not just the current state of AI in Ophthalmology, but also its promising future. 

How do you envision AI augmenting the functionality and reliability of devices in Ophthalmology?

We're in a very dynamic environment, and what we can see is that there is definitely a lot of noise around AI and deep learning technology, and the benefits [these applications have] for society with a technology that is evolving. We truly believe the way screening is performed will definitely change as a result of AI applications. 

How is your organization integrating AI into medical devices used for retinal care and treatment?

Our approach is straightforward: we embrace AI technology providers, who are seeking integration of AI into our latest solutions, and those who are aiming for a Vendor Neutral Platform (VNA) approach. It's all about the value AI brings to our technology and its societal benefits, particularly in screening.

Can you describe your anticipation regarding AI’s impact on medical device manufacturing and innovation in Ophthalmology?

Manufacturers must engage with a dynamic, ever-evolving AI environment. With daily AI-related publications, an increasing number of pathologies that can be detected more accurately, and a high potential for technology-integrated ecosystems, companies need to leverage this momentum with their technology in order to introduce solutions for the betterment of the health care society. The scope of AI in ophthalmology is expanding beyond diabetic screening, AMD, and glaucoma to include conditions like multiple sclerosis, hypertension, Alzheimer's, and stroke. I believe AI's role in primary care, especially through eye screenings, will be crucial. We’ll be able to screen for different types of pathologies.

In what ways do you see AI enhancing the productivity and efficiency of medical device manufacturing?

AI promises substantial advantages, from early pathology detection to workflow and patient care improvements. It also offers significant enhancements in imaging, including noise reduction and acquisition quality improvements. Essentially, the possibilities with AI are limitless, I think the sky is really the limit for that purpose.

Could you share your thoughts on the kinds of collaborations and partnerships that would support successful AI integrations in this field?

Collaboration is always about a common understanding. We are in a very dynamic environment, and a lot of challenges come about because of this. In this dynamic environment, both AI providers and manufacturers need to understand each other's technologies, and be educated on the AI technology as such. And, by having this common understanding and a common goal to improve patient outcomes, increases the probability that we can come together with a combined solution that would be beneficial for everybody. 

Also, there are a lot of fears in the market about AI. Some people are afraid their jobs will be replaced because of AI, so that means education is required. There are also fears about the fact that AI is accountable and responsible in situations of providing the wrong indication, because there’s always a percentage of false positives or a wrong assessment. So, as market dynamics and concerns about AI's role evolve, so too must regulations and education around AI to address fears and potential resistance to its integration. There are definitely challenges along the way, but I truly believe that the time is now and it will be a learning curve for both parties.

Looking forward, how do you see AI reshaping the landscape of Retina-related healthcare and research in the next 5-10 years?

Of course in 5 to 10 years, it will be a different story. But what I can say is change is happening now, and AI's benefits are evident in both manufacturing and clinical settings. So definitely, we can already see that deep learning technologies bring advantages for society. If I’m purely commenting from a manufacturing point of view, where we see that AI benefits and has been adopted on the manufacturing process with segmentation detail of the different layers of the retina, or with denoising solutions for instance. 

Now, if we look at it from a clinical perspective, it’s also already being implemented. Diabetic Retinopathy, AMD, Glaucoma, are areas where we see screening programs using those solutions and it’s going to further evolve. In 5 to 10 years, AI's broader adoption will bring even more benefits to society. I’m a true believer that within a 5 to 10-year window time, we will be in a different, more data-driven, world thanks to AI.

Envisioning Tomorrow: Conclusion Thoughts 

Our conversation with Adel Bencheikh reaffirms that we're just at the cusp of what AI can accomplish in Ophthalmology. The future holds a paradigm shift in how we approach eye care, driven by advancements in AI. This is more than a technological change; it's a societal transformation. As we continue to explore AI's impacts from various perspectives, stay tuned for more insights from industry leaders, providing a 360-degree view of this fascinating topic.

This article was written by Léa Errog