IBM Watson Health and IDx LLC announced a five-year strategic partnership on Thursday.
Their goal is to help health care providers worldwide better care for patients with diabetic retinopathy.
Of the estimated 285 million people worldwide with diabetes in 2010, over one-third had signs of diabetic retinopathy, according to a study published in Eye and Vision in September 2015.
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IDx offers an automated solution for diabetic retinopathy screening called IDx-DR. A study presented at the EURETINA Congress in 2016 found that it has the potential to improve the safety and efficiency of DR screening in preventing vision loss and blindness.
It's currently available in 31 countries within the European Economic Area. As part of the partnership, IBM plans to expand distribution to Australia, Canada and the U.S. once it receives regulatory approval.
IDx-DR version 2.0 has CE mark in Europe but has not yet been cleared by the FDA. IDx is currently conducting a U.S.-based clinical trial that's expected to be completed this summer.
IBM and IDx also intend to work together to develop and deploy new eye-related offerings that incorporate IBM's cognitive computing applications and IDx's work in ophthalmic image analysis.
This partnership comes a month after IBM announced that IDx joined the global IBM Watson medical imaging collaborative that includes 24 members worldwide.
The collaborative has a working group on eye health that will accelerate Watson's understanding of diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease.