It has been said that the eyes are a window to overall health. Now, it seems that the retina is the most revealing. New research suggests that the retina contains essential information about the health of the entire body.
AI Advances Disease Detection
Researchers at Google say a new application of artificial intelligence (AI) can help determine risk for chronic conditions like hypertension or diabetes that can lead to eye disease. It’s not uncommon for ophthalmologists to detect diabetes or high blood pressure during an eye exam, but AI now has the capability to take disease detection to the next level (AAO).
Most ophthalmologists use a 3-D imaging method called optical coherence tomography (OCT) to view the light-sensitive layers of the retina. The advantage of AI is that it’s faster, cheaper and more precise. From just a simple color photo of the retina, AI can determine specific information about an individual, including age, gender, blood glucose levels, blood pressure and even smoking history.
AI’s Early Detection of Macular Degeneration, Macular Edema
AI algorithms can detect the presence of degenerative eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and can even predict how the disease may progress. AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss among older adults, and about 60 percent of men and women 50 and older show early signs of central vision loss. With the help of AI, high-risk individuals could be identified to receive early treatment.
This new technology could also help spot macular edema, the accumulation of fluid in the macula. This is a common complication in the retina due to diabetes and can often result in vision loss. The algorithm can provide specific data about fluid levels in the eye and can help ophthalmologists assess the effectiveness of treatment (Live Science).
Future of AI
AI has the potential to revolutionize the future of all disease detection, from autoimmune disease to neurological and metabolic disease. The most significant advantage of the technology is that it may allow the public to screen themselves, which could make all the difference in developing countries with inefficient healthcare systems. If specialists are not required to perform testing, energy and resources can be reallocated to treatment and therapies (The Telegraph).
Use our Find a Physician tool to locate a board-certified ophthalmologist in your area. Our doctors provide comprehensive eye exams to give you a full evaluation of your eye health — and your overall wellness!