Predicting premature death from the eyeball

A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology revealed that something in the eye may reveal if a person is at risk of premature death, as scanning the eyeball could one day help doctors identify ‘old people’ who are more likely to die prematurely.

The study noted that it’s clear that getting older has an effect on everyone’s body, but just because two people are the same age doesn’t mean they decline at the same rate.

Looking deeper into a person’s eyes can be a much better way to measure their true biological age, and this can provide a glimpse into patients’ health in the future.

A machine learning model has now been taught to predict a person’s life years just by looking at the retina, the tissue at the back of the eye.

The algorithm is very accurate, and can predict the age of nearly 47,000 middle-aged and older adults in the UK within the 3.5-year category.

A little more than a decade after examining this retina, 1,871 people had died, and those with an older looking retina were more likely to fall into this group.

For example, if the algorithm predicts that a person’s retina is a year older than their actual age, the risk of dying from any cause in the next 11 years increases by 2%. At the same time, the risk of death from causes other than cardiovascular disease or cancer increases by 3%.

The study indicated that the results are purely observational, which means that we still do not know what drives this relationship at the biological level.


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