Here’s something you don’t see every day – A 16-year-old girl used her computer science skills to help make an early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy (which damages blood vessels in the retina leading to a complete loss of vision) and saved her grandfather’s vision!
Kavya Kopparapu, with a team that includes her 15-year-old brother, Neeyanth, and classmate Justin Zhang, has developed a smartphone app called Eyeagnosis.
It comes with a 3D-printed lens that can cut the tedious two-hour long diagnostic procedure to produce a retinal image. Perhaps more importantly, it reduces the cost from thousands of dollars to a quick photo snapped with a phone!
The device uses a form of artificial intelligence to recognize signs of diabetic retinopathy in the photographs clicked – which allows preliminary diagnosis.
Kavya presented her project at the O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence conference, in New York City, last month, and garnered adulation and praise.
Thanks to her efforts, her grandfather was cured through the timely intervention of doctors. This made Kavya realise that time and diagnosis are the two most essential factors.
Speaking to IEEE Spectrum, she said, “In India, there are programmes that send doctors into villages and slums. But there are a lot of patients and only so many ophthalmologists. What if there were a cheap, easy way for local clinicians to find new cases and refer them to a hospital?”
A visual disease expert, J. Fielding Hejtmancik from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) praised the child prodigy saying, “These kids have put things together in a very nice way; it’s a bit cheaper and simpler than most [systems designed by researchers]—who, by the way, all have advanced degrees!”
However, he did confirm that the project has a long road to clinical adoption and Kavya will need a lot of clinical data to prove Eyeagnosis is reliable in various situations like eye hospitals in the countryside and clinics in remote areas of India.
Kavya Kopparapu is also the founder and CEO of ‘Girls Computing League‘ through which she shares her passion for computer science, to help open a world of opportunities for girls and women succeed.
Connect to Kavya here.