back to article AI eye-scanner can tell whether you'll croak it from a heart attack

AI algorithms can predict whether a patient is at risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or dying from heart disease just by studying images of their retinas, according to research out of England. The thin layers of tissue at the back of the eyeball sensitive to light can reveal a surprising amount of information on their …

  1. vtcodger Silver badge

    Spirits from the Vasty Deep

    " AI algorithms can predict whether a patient is at risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or dying from heart disease just by studying images of their retinas"

    This brings to mind Shakespeare:

    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "reduce burden on already stretched healthcare systems"

    Okay, point number one : if they're that stretched, they need better funding. Take a billion or two from the military budget, that should do the trick.

    Point number two : if this tech actually works, it should be generalized and encouraged. A non-invasive, presumably quick method of determining heart risks should become a yearly check-up procedure for everyone.

    I have rather high blood pressure even in the best of conditions. My doctor says that I have the heart of an ox. I wonder what my results would be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmmm

      I suspect the outcome isn't good for the ox....

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Look into my eyes..

      .. if this tech actually works, it should be generalized and encouraged. A non-invasive, presumably quick method of determining heart risks should become a yearly check-up procedure for everyone.

      I just had my annual one done. A nice lady looked deep into my eyes, then flashed me. The joy of being T2 diabetic.

      Procedure's reasonably quick, so a quick sight test with the traditional chart. Then the less fun part, so eye drops (she made me cry!) followed by a 20min wait for those to take effect. Then it's gazing into the camera, getting each eye shot a couple of times, then admiring my retinas on their screen. And discovering I could get a copy of the images, if I asked the screening department's booking desk. Praise the NHS!

      Downside is it leaves your eyes rather dilated for a couple of hours, which isn't the most pleasent experience, or good if you're driving, using a screen etc. Especially as I'd forgotten my sunglasses and the Sun had decided to peek out. Plus there was a sheet listing potential side-effects from having your eye temporarily paralysed. Or just getting funny looks from having wild, staring eyes.

      So I guess it'll boil down to how effective an expanded screening programme could be, or if the procedure could be simplified to use quicker/cheaper retina photography. No idea if it's something our increasingly smart phones could do, but retina scanning's getting more common as a security device. Or illusion of security, which is one of the reasons why I wanted copies of mine. Plus it's a part of my body I don't get to see every day.

      Then it's praticalities, especially given the way GPs are overloaded and many people don't even get a regular annual check up. But I guess that could be automated. Simple call centre script to phone everyone. Are you alive? Press 1# for yes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Look into my eyes..

        I get those checks without the eye drops. I think your nice lady may just enjoy seeing you cry.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Look into my eyes..

          I get those checks without the eye drops. I think your nice lady may just enjoy seeing you cry.

          Maybe it's down to the cameras? Guessing those aren't cheap, but have probably been getting cheaper. Conveniently, got my results letter today, and all clear. Yey!

          Except the letter mentions the screening's only for diabetic neuropathy issues, and doesn't replace other opthalmic testing/screening. Which I guess is where wider screening could be some potential benefit, along with increased risks. So I don't know how widely my retina images get shared around the NHS (or outside it), or if those images could be used for other diagnostics. I did read that some diagnostic tests use different methods, cameras, contrast dyes etc.

          I guess the risk is the usual one though, ie sharing rather personal data too widely given the identity/security implications. It's not exactly a part of one's body that's easily modified. Unless you ignore PPE, and do look into that fibre with your one good eye. But that's one of the things I was curious about having worked with lasers for years. Including some fun Juniper cards that mounted their optics with a 45° upward angle and no auto-shutters. Those got redesigned after we pointed out they weren't exactly safe.

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Look into my eyes..

            Over here, they do the same eyedrops & inspection, and apparently it screens for glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and 2 or 3 other things I can't remember or pronounce.

            The dilation sucks, because it means I can't drive for at least 30 minutes, even with a double layer of sunglasses and a dark visor on my helmet.

            1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

              The dilation sucks, because it means I can’t drive for at least 30 minutes,

              Au contraire — the dilation rules, because it means that I can nap for at least 30 minutes!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Look into my eyes..

              Here they wouldn't use them if they thought you were going to ignore their guidelines of not driving the same day.

              It always amuses me given one of the supposed physiological effects of lying.

              "You didn't drive here today did you?"

              me:"No no no.."

              "and thank you, I don't actually need to use the drops now..."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "reduce burden on already stretched healthcare systems"

      I am a diabetic (in America) with two ophthalmologists. The lessor one tracks peripheral vision and glaucoma. The greater one tracks diabetic retinopathy and periodically injects my eye with drugs using a Clockwork Orange eyelid spreader.

      Neither is quick and the detailed scans can involve dye injections as well as dilation.

      BTW, as far as crying, I get anesthetic eyedrops before dilation eyedrops.

      (Also, I agree with you as far as the military vs. health budget.)

    4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: I have rather high blood pressure even in the best of conditions

      You have your own device for measuring blood pressure?

      That is the only sure-fire method of guarding against "White Coat Syndrome".

    5. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: "reduce burden on already stretched healthcare systems"

      -- Take a billion or two from the military budget, that should do the trick. --

      Only if its not spent on more Diversity & Inclusion staff.

  3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Jobs for the toys

    "More ophthalmologists would have to be hired and trained in interpreting the results"

    Perhaps we could use some AI to undertake that task?

    Hang on; I'm completely confused now.

  4. knarf

    Tin Foil Sun Glasses on order

    this will be open for abuse, job interview, ....eh... we will just take your picture...

  5. Martin Summers

    If the machine told me I was going to have a heart attack, I might just have one immediately after, worrying about it. Therefore I don't trust it!

    1. To Mars in Man Bras!

      I was thinking the same mysefl. I'ts a bit like the old adage that a snarling dog will only attack you if it smells your fear. "You're going to die of a heart attack. But watch your blood pressure!"

  6. DS999 Silver badge

    Smartphone apps

    I imagine a smartphone camera and processor might be able to handle this. Not sure if I want to download a "am I going to die today" app though!

  7. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Can it tell me...

    ...if I will die late?

  8. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    News just in...

    Sainsburys are now giving a Croak Kit free with some packets of bananas.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-63158941

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like