Five years ago, Bryan Shaw’s son Noah lost an eye to cancer.
Doctors diagnosed Noah Shaw’s retinoblastoma when he was 4 months old, National Public Radio reports. They found the disease by shining a light into Noah’s eye, getting a pale reflection from the back of the eyeball, an indication of the presence of tumors.
Noah’s father Bryan is a scientist, and he wondered if he could see that same pale reflection in the flash pictures his wife was always taking of his baby son. Sure enough, in a picture taken right after Noah was born, he saw the reflection or glow, which doctors call “white eye.”
The white eye showed up in pictures of Noah at 12 days old. His dad couldn’t help but wonder whether Noah’s eye could have been saved if they had intervened at that point.
Bryan is a chemist, not an eye doctor nor a computer scientist, but he decided to create software that could scan photos for signs of this reflection.
“If I would have had some software in telling me ‘Hey, go get this checked out,’ that would have sped up my son’s diagnosis and the tumors would have been just a little bit smaller when we got to them. There might have been fewer,” he told NPR.
So along with colleagues at Baylor University, Shaw created an app called CRADLE, which uses artificial intelligence to find white eye, which can be a sign of retinoblastoma, pediatric cataracts, and Coats’ disease.