Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that can analyse eye scans taken during a routine visit to an optician or eye clinic and identify patients at a high risk of a heart attack.
Doctors have recognised that changes to the tiny blood vessels in the retina are indicators of broader vascular disease, including problems with the heart.
In the research, led by the University of Leeds, deep learning techniques were used to train an AI system to automatically read retinal scans and identify those people who, over the following year, were likely to have a heart attack.
Deep learning is a complex series of algorithms that enable computers to identify patterns in data and to make predictions.
Writing in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, the researchers report in their paper – Predicting Infarction through your retinal scans and minimal personal Information – that the AI system had an accuracy of between 70% and 80% and could be used as a second referral mechanism for in-depth cardiovascular examination.
The use of deep learning in the analysis of retinal scans could revolutionise the way patients are regularly screened for signs of heart disease.
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