Simple retinal scan evaluates biological age and predicts risk of death

January 27, 2022
Simple retinal scan evaluates biological age and predicts risk of death

A new observational study found the gap between a person’s chronological age and retinal age was indicative of their risk of death. This led researchers to propose a simple retina scan as a screening tool to indicate whether a person is at risk of early death.

The retinal age gap gleaned from an easy retinal scan could also evaluate a person’s biological age. By measuring deterioration in tissue at the back of the eye, the researchers developed a deep learning model designed to predict a person’s age.

In most healthy middle-aged adults, the algorithm could accurately predict a person’s age within a window of three and half years from a single retinal image. It was then discovered that those with a large gap between their chronological age and their retinal age had a higher risk of death over an 11-year follow-up. Those with retinal age gaps larger than three years were between 49% and 67% more likely to die than those with a small retinal age gap.

[For every year difference between retinal age and chronological age the study calculated a two percent increase in all-cause mortality and a three percent increase in death from causes other than cardiovascular disease and cancer.]

According to the researchers, the retina “offers a unique, accessible ‘window’ to evaluate underlying pathological processes of systemic vascular and neurological diseases that are associated with increased risks of mortality.” In addition to being a clinically significant biomarker of aging, the researchers hypothesise a simple eye scan could be used to easily monitor a person’s general health. The algorithm could also be incorporated into a smartphone app allowing for doctors to remotely assess patients.

Read: Ice cube tray retinal patch helps regenerate cells for vision

Category: Features, Health alert

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