A quick and pain-free scan of the human eyeball could one day help doctors identify “fast agers,” who are at greater risk of early mortality. ScienceAlert reports: A machine learning model has now been taught to predict a person’s years of life simply by looking at their retina, which is the tissue at the back of the eye. The algorithm is so accurate, it could predict the age of nearly 47,000 middle-aged and elderly adults in the United Kingdom within a bracket of 3.5 years. Just over a decade after these retinas were scanned, 1,871 individuals had died, and those who had older-looking retinas were more likely to fall in this group.
For instance, if the algorithm predicted a person’s retina was a year older than their actual age, their risk of death from any cause in the next 11 years went up by 2 percent. At the same time, their risk of death from a cause other than cardiovascular disease or cancer went up by 3 percent. The findings are purely observational, which means we still don’t know what is driving this relationship at a biological level. Nevertheless, the results support growing evidence that the retina is highly sensitive to the damages of aging. Because this visible tissue hosts both blood vessels and nerves, it could tell us important information about an individual’s vascular and brain health. The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.