​In order to screen for early signs of diabetic eye conditions more efficiently, Diabetes Singapore will deploy an artificial intelligence (AI) system which can analyse and produce results for an eye scan within minutes, instead of about an hour.

The society targets to screen 11,000 patients this year, up from 8,000 last year, it said yesterday.

Known as Selena+, the AI technology developed by local start-up EyRIS can identify patients with three types of eye disease: diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Diabetic retinopathy, a result of damage to the blood vessels in one's retina, is the most common microvascular complication of diabetes, affecting around 180,000 Singaporeans.

To diagnose diabetic retinopathy, the AI technology looks out for symptoms such as bleeding, swelling and microaneurysms, which would appear as tiny red lesions in retina photography, said Associate Professor Gavin Tan, clinical director at the Singapore National Eye Centre's Ocular Reading Centre.

EyRIS chief executive Lai Teik Kin said the AI system has more than a 90 per cent accuracy rate, and it can "eliminate human inconsistencies" when analysing data.

Previously, the retinal images were analysed and graded manually, and this could take around an hour to produce results, he noted.

For those with confirmed diabetic eye conditions, a second round of grading will be done by the eye care provider to ensure that the diagnosis is accurate.

Since last month, all diabetic eye screenings by polyclinics have been processed by the Selena+ AI programme.

To better facilitate community outreach and educational programmes on diabetes, EyRIS and Diabetes Singapore yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding.

Four machines have been bought by Diabetes Singapore, two of which will be used at its centres in Boon Keng and Jurong.

The other two machines will be used for its mobile screening vans, which are usually deployed to support general practitioner clinics islandwide in providing diagnostic blood glucose tests and eye screenings for diabetic patients.

Diabetic patients are generally advised to go for screening at least once a year, so early indications of eye conditions can be quickly referred to an eye specialist.

The cost of screening will be $15 for Diabetes Singapore members, and $18 for non-members.