Send to

Choose Destination
NPJ Digit Med. 2018 Aug 28;1:39. doi: 10.1038/s41746-018-0040-6. eCollection 2018.

Pivotal trial of an autonomous AI-based diagnostic system for detection of diabetic retinopathy in primary care offices.

Author information

1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 USA.
2Veterans Administration Medical Center, Iowa City, IA 52242 USA.
IDx LLC, Coralville, IA 52241 USA.
4Institute for Vision Research, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 USA.
Boston Biostatistics Research Foundation, Inc., 3 Cahill Park Drive, Framingham, MA 01702 USA.
6Department of Family Medicine, Director of Academic Services, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Charlotte, NC 28204 USA.
7The Emmes Corporation, 401 North Washington Street, Suite 700, Rockville, MD 20850 USA.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long promised to increase healthcare affordability, quality and accessibility but FDA, until recently, had never authorized an autonomous AI diagnostic system. This pivotal trial of an AI system to detect diabetic retinopathy (DR) in people with diabetes enrolled 900 subjects, with no history of DR at primary care clinics, by comparing to Wisconsin Fundus Photograph Reading Center (FPRC) widefield stereoscopic photography and macular Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), by FPRC certified photographers, and FPRC grading of Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study Severity Scale (ETDRS) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). More than mild DR (mtmDR) was defined as ETDRS level 35 or higher, and/or DME, in at least one eye. AI system operators underwent a standardized training protocol before study start. Median age was 59 years (range, 22-84 years); among participants, 47.5% of participants were male; 16.1% were Hispanic, 83.3% not Hispanic; 28.6% African American and 63.4% were not; 198 (23.8%) had mtmDR. The AI system exceeded all pre-specified superiority endpoints at sensitivity of 87.2% (95% CI, 81.8-91.2%) (>85%), specificity of 90.7% (95% CI, 88.3-92.7%) (>82.5%), and imageability rate of 96.1% (95% CI, 94.6-97.3%), demonstrating AI's ability to bring specialty-level diagnostics to primary care settings. Based on these results, FDA authorized the system for use by health care providers to detect more than mild DR and diabetic macular edema, making it, the first FDA authorized autonomous AI diagnostic system in any field of medicine, with the potential to help prevent vision loss in thousands of people with diabetes annually. NCT02963441.


Biomedical engineering; Eye manifestations

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsM.D.A. is shareholder, director, and employee of IDx, LLC, and has relevant patents and patent applications assigned to the University of Iowa; P.T.L. received fees from IDx, LLC for statistical consultancy; N.S. and M.B. declare no competing interests. J.C.F. is shareholder of IDx, LLC. Disclosure forms provided by the authors are available with the full text of this article. Patents (all issued) that may be affected by this study are: applied for by the University of Iowa, inventor M.D.A., 7,474,775, Automatic Detection of Red Lesions in Digital Color Fundus Photographs; 7,712,898, Methods and Systems for Optic Nerve Head Segmentation; 8,340,437, Methods and Systems for Determining Optimal Features for Classifying Patterns or Objects in Images; 9,924,867, Automated Determination of Arteriovenous Ratio in Images of Blood Vessels; applied by IDx, inventor M.D.A., 9,155,465, Snapshot Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomographer; 9,782,065, Parallel optical coherence tomography apparatuses, systems and related methods; 9,814,386, Systems and methods for alignment of the eye for ocular imaging.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center