An Aging Retina Could Predict Mortality Risk
A regular eye exam usually includes retinal screening. The health of the retina is assessed with the use of a special camera. This screening can detect eye damage due to several conditions, such as diabetes. Also, retinal health may be a biomarker of CVDs. A recent study indicates that medical practitioners could foresee the risk of death by screening the retina.
Eye health is very important. The research team suggests that the retinal age gap could predict mortality risk. By method of deep learning, they evaluated the age of the retina according to images of the fundus of the eye. This study showed that the use of AI combined with deep learning could identify an ‘evident’ retinal age. When that age is compared to the actual age, one can assess the mortality risk.
This study included 35,913 participants. The researchers assessed the participants’ retinal age gap. That is the difference between the biological retinal age and the actual age of a person. A positive value means that the retina is older than the patient’s chronological age. When the study began, all participants were middle-aged and older. The patients whose retinal age was older than their actual age were more likely to have a higher risk of death caused by certain conditions. A greater retinal age gap means a higher mortality risk.
The risk of death is linked to the retinal age gap for certain conditions. However, there are two important exceptions: cancer and CVD. These two conditions in the study caused more than 70% of the patients’ deaths.
Nevertheless, this study has several shortfalls. Namely, the research team failed to determine the cause. Moreover, the majority of the people involved were white. Although there are limitations, the research team suggests that retinal screening may be helpful to determine the mortality risk. In addition to that, there is a need for additional research that could help medical practitioners to comprehend the process of aging.
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