SERI researchers develop AI tools for kidney disease screening by predicting age using eye photos

Researchers at the Eye Research Institute in Singapore have developed two new AI-based tools for screening for chronic kidney disease and predicting a person’s biological age from retinal photographs.

Both tools use AI-based learning algorithms to scan an individual’s retina photos to assess their health.


A kidney disease screening tool called RetiKid was developed by SERI և National University of Singapore Computer School in 2019. The tool was trained with more than 23,000 retina images in Singapore and around 12,000 participants in China.

The study showed that it had 91% accuracy in the internal test և 73% և 83% accuracy in the two sets of external tests. The screening tool is licensed for healthcare technology startup EyRIS for production and commercialization.

“Both the retina and the kidneys share a ‘close biological relationship,'” said Charumat Sabanayagam, deputy head of SERI’s ocular epidemiology research group. “Thus, problems with the blood vessels in the retina can give hints of changes in the blood vessels of the kidneys.”

RetiKid can be used as a preliminary screening test in general populations և for high-risk groups, such as diabetics, to detect CKD. Upon completion, patients may be advised to undergo routine blood-urine tests.

The other AI tool, RetiAge, was later developed in 2021 by SERI և Medi Whale, a healthcare startup in South Korea. It has been tested on more than 129,000 images of the retina of more than 40,000 South Koreans. The tool was also evaluated in the UK Biobank database for its ability to predict the 10-year risk of illness and death of 56,000 people.

Human blood vessels in the retina can also show the aging process – the general health of the blood and brain, says Cheng Ching-Yun, head of the SERI’s’s eye epidemiology research group և data science research platform. “The retina is a non-invasive window into a person’s biological age, systemic health, can tell us a lot about human disease and mortality risks.”

The biological age of a person, compared to his chronological age, can better understand the physiological changes associated with aging. Therefore, it can be used to assess their general health. Cheng argues that biological age is of greater interest to researchers, especially given the aging of the global population and the growing incidence of chronic diseases.


Both RetiKid and RetiAge offer a non-invasive approach to clinical screening in clinics. Patients may find them more tolerable, which may lead to more acceptance and compliance with the initial health examination.

Both tools can be integrated with Singapore Eye Lesion Analyzer Plus, a retinal imaging system developed by SERI and now used in Singapore polyclinics for diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

For RetiKid, the screening process is automated, enabling effective mass screening for at-risk patients. “They have tools like RetiKid [the] “The current level of CKD screening can improve the potential for widespread use in primary care,” said Dr. Cynthia Lim, lead researcher on the RetiKid project.

In addition, RetiKid has the potential to connect with smartphones, allowing you to diagnose the point of care. “Early detection of penitentiary allows doctors, patients to intervene quickly, slow down [its] “Progress,” said Dr. Lim.

Currently in its validation phase, RetiKid is set to be used in the Community Awareness Program by SERI in partnership with the National Kidney Foundation. The program, which runs from February 2022 to January 2024, will involve about 1,200 participants at high risk of developing a penitentiary.

At the same time, researchers are currently working on refining RetiAge algorithms to optimize its prediction efficiency among the local population. They are also looking to see if it can be used to predict other age-related diseases.


The National Ophthalmology Center of Singapore claims that the population of Singapore is “uniquely vulnerable” to eye diseases and disorders at every stage of life. Short-sightedness or short-sightedness affects every two children under the age of 12. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in working adults. Moreover, the risk of blindness for Singaporeans over 50։ increases 15 times.

Is one of the latest eye health innovations in Singapore Method for screening for AI-based glaucoma was developed by a team of doctors at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Nanyang Technological University.

Help increase access to ophthalmology in the country Johnson & Johnson Vision: has developed a three-year roadmap to develop an integrated eye health ecosystem focusing on data digitization initiatives. Some of the key projects he plans to implement include the Community Eye Health Electronic Referral Network, AI-based ophthalmology service and telemedicine.

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