Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Testing with AI Analysis of Eye Image


Project Details

Fortem Genus Labs (FG Labs) a service-disabled veteran owned corporation and Fayetteville State University (FSU), a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and a constitute institution of the University of North Carolina (UNC) have partnered to train, test and operate RetinalNet.  RetinalNet is a patent pending combination of existing open and proprietary technologies to create a rapid (less than 1 minute), Sensitive and specific eye imaging test to identify subjects infected with SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen responsible for SARS-COV-2. The principle components of the system are High Resolution Retinal, Iris and Scleral images, collected with existing, commercially available fudiscopic cameras (see pic below) equipped with Bluetooth or Wifi capability, data repository software, and a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) trainable with the Inception Resnet deep neural network architecture.

FSU is currently conducting SARS-CoV2 testing for 3000 subjects, who respond to notices offering free testing, at locations in and around Fayetteville, NC.  In conjunction with the FSU SARS-COV-2 testing FG Labs is conducting eye scan imaging on the subjects participating in the SARS-COV-2 testing.  The eye images are tagged as SARS-COV-2 positive or negative and then uploaded to the RetinalNet CNN model for the purpose of training the model to identify subjects as SARS-COV-2 positive or negative.

Approximately 1/3rd  of the COVID testing subjects are agreeing to have their eyes imaged. Therefore, it is estimated that the FSU viral testing and FG Labs imaging process will render approximately 50 SARS-COV-2 positive subject eye images.  We estimate that a minimum of 750 to 1,500 SARS-COV-2 positive eye images, and an additional 750 to 1,500 SARS-COV-2 negative eye images will be needed to validate our hypothesis by training the RetinalNet CNN to be able to recognize a SARS-COV-2 signature in the eye images with a reasonable degree of accuracy (see pic below of eye imaging done in conjunction with COVID19 testing).  Therefore, FG Labs is working to form a RetinalNet consortium and expand its access to SARS-COV-2 positive eye images by partnering with additional public and private organizations associated with the UNC system who are conducting SARS-COV-2 testing.  In this regard FG Labs and FSU are forming a unit to provide eye imaging and data processing training to RetinalNet mobile teams that will be deployed to consortium partner locations throughout North Carolina where SARS-COV-2 testing is conducted.     The mobile RetinalNet teams will conduct eye imaging and data gathering in collaboration with the UNC consortium partners who are conducting SARS-COV-2 testing.  Basic demographic and medical history information are collected on each subject volunteer.

This project was approved and is supervised by the UNC - IRB.  FG Labs in collaboration with FSU is currently operating under a 5-month UNC grant ending December 2020. We are requesting COVID-19 testing partners to enable us to jointly continue the eye imaging beyond December 2020 until July 2021, and to expand the scope of the current eye imaging to include additional UNC COVID-19 testing affiliates.

The additional eye imaging will enable us to much more rapidly acquire the sample data and images necessary to train our CNN and conduct preliminary pivotal clinical trials.

Who will use the outputs of this project? What value will this project provide to that user?

The proposed approach is envisioned to be easily accessible to the health-care community world-wide. The use of this technology will provide not only a direct clinical benefit to providers and patients, but provide hospitals, health departments and other testing centers with rapid (, 1 min from acquisition to outcome), inexpensive, noninvasive tests to detect SARS-CoV-2, and other diseases.  The test is as quick as checking temperature plus a symptom review and could be used for access control as well as diagnostic triage.

See Annex for a description of the RetinalNet technology, justification, and work to date.



Abstract    Methodology


(910) 584-6193   •

Fortem Genus, Inc.

Fayetteville, NC




(910) 584-6193   •