Age old methods of going to the doctor or specialist to check your blood levels and risk of diseases are no longer the only way to check your susceptibility. A new robot created by Google can read you retinas to assess your risk of heart disease. The new device is powered by artificial intelligence and is far less invasive than traditional diagnostic blood tests, but Google insist that it provides the exact same accuracy in results.
The new app will analyze scans of the back of a persons eye, in order to predict age, blood pressure and if the person is a smoker or not. From this, the data collected will be used to analyze that persons risk of suffering from a fatal cardiac event, such as a heart attack.
The product was created by Google, in collaboration with California-based health-tech subsidiary Verily, who created the algorithm, which analyzed the blood vessels behind the eye. Due to the shape and size of retinal vessels reflecting a person’s health, it is easier to tell that a person with weaker, damaged vessels are at a greater risk.
Study coauthor Dr Michael McConnell, a medical researcher at Verily noted that although there is a general understanding of what puts people at risk, “we don’t precisely know in a particular individual how these factors add up, so in some patients we may perform sophisticated tests … to help better stratify an individual’s risk for having a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.”
He added, “This paper demonstrates that deep learning applied to a retinal fundus image, a photograph that includes the blood vessels of the eye, can frequently predict these risk factors – from smoking status to blood pressure – as well as predict the occurrence of a future major cardiovascular event on par with current measures.”
In addition, the researchers used a dataset of almost 300,000 patients, including eye scans and general medical data to train the data, leading study coauthor Dr Lily Peng to add “I am very excited about what this means for discovery. ‘We hope researchers in other places will take what we have and build on it.”