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How big data can help retinal medicine

Useful conclusions have already been drawn from analyses of big data

Leigh Spielberg

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2019

Adnan Tufail

“What is big data? Why am I interested in big data? And why should you be interested in it?” were the three big questions that Adnan Tufail, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, United Kingdom sought to answer in his presentation.

Entitled, “Big Data for Retina: Perspectives and Cautions,” Dr Tufail’s presentation was given to delegates at the 19th Annual EURETINA Congress in Paris yesterday morning.

Dr Tufail’s interest in big data originated with the discrepancies that he had noticed between clinical trial results and real-world outcomes regarding anti-VEGF treatments. “Within two months, we had generated a database of more than 11,000 eyes,” he said.

“Ironically, large data sets may help with precision medicine, meaning: what can an individual patient expect from a certain treatment?” said Dr Tufail.

So why should ophthalmologists be interested? Because very useful conclusions have already been drawn from analyses of big data. Diabetic retinopathy progression can be predicted based on the baseline retinopathy and clinical features; a history of intravitreal injections is a significant predictor of posterior capsular rupture during cataract surgery; and software currently exists that can accurately distinguish age-related macular degeneration from normal eyes based on OCT. Big data is coming.