The Modern Equine Vet
June 2024
Vol 14 Issue 6 2024
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Ophthalmology

AI Tool Recognizes Equine Recurrent Uveitis

Researchers developed a deep learning tool that is capable of reliably diagnosing equine recurrent uveitis (ERU) in horses based on photos.

Colloquially known as moon blindness, ERU is an inflammatory ocular disease in horses, which can lead to blindness or enucleation. It is 1 of the most common eye diseases in horses and has a major economic impact. Therefore, correct and swift diagnosis is important to minimize lasting damage.

A team led by Professor Anna May, DrMedVet, DECEIM, from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Equine Clinic has developed and trained a deep learning tool that reliably recognizes the disease and can support veterinarians in making the diagnosis, the researchers report in a recent study.

In an online survey, the researchers asked 150 veterinarians to evaluate 40 photos of healthy eyes, eyes with ERU, and eyes with other diseases.

The deep learning tool was given the task of evaluating the same photos.

Subsequently, Dr. May compared the results of the veterinarians against those of the AI. She discovered that equine veterinarians interpreted the pictures correctly 76% of the time, while the remaining veterinarians from small animal or mixed practices were right 67% of the time.

“With the deep learning tool, the probability of getting a correct answer was 93%,” Dr. May said.

“Although the differences were not statistically significant, they nonetheless show that the AI reliably recognizes ERU and has great potential as a tool for supporting veterinarians.”

The tool is web-app-based and simple to use on a smartphone.

“It’s not meant to replace veterinarians but can help them reach the correct diagnosis. It is particularly valuable for less experienced professionals or for horse owners in regions where veterinarians are few and far between,” Dr. May emphasized. Through the early detection of ERU, affected horses can receive appropriate treatment more quickly, which can be decisive in slowing down the progression of the disease and saving the afflicted eyes. MeV

For more information:
Scharre A, Scholler D, Gesell-May S, et al. Comparison of veterinarians and a deep learning tool in the diagnosis of equine ophthalmic diseases. Equine Vet J. 2024; April 24. doi:10.1111/evj.14087.
https://beva.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/evj.14087

Image courtesey of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Equine Clinic