A simple and painless exam of human eyes may be a day when doctors can identify “fast agers,” with a higher chance of dying young.
Ageing naturally impacts everyone’s body however, the fact that two individuals have the same amount of years in their lives does not mean that they’re physically decline at the same pace.
The look into someone’s eyes can be a better method of determining their actual age and could give an insight into the health and future of patients.
A machine learning model has been trained to predict an individual’s age of life by simply studying their retina, which is the tissue located at the back of the eyes.
It is that precise that it is able to accurately predict the age of more than 47,000 elderly and middle-aged people in the United Kingdom within a bracket of 3.5 years.
A little over a decade later, the retinas were examined, 1,871 people had passed away, and those with older-looking retinas had a higher chance to be within this category.
For example, if the algorithm determined that a person’s retina was one year more old than they actually are their chance of dying from any cause over the following 11 years increased two percent. In the same way the risk of dying from causes other than cancer or cardiovascular disease increased by 3 percent.
The data are observational. This means that we don’t yet know what’s driving this connection on a biological level.
However, the findings confirm of the fact that retinas are sensitive to the effects from the aging process. Since the retina houses both nerves and blood vessels and nerves, it can provide vital information about a person’s blood flow and brain health.
The previous studies have indicated that the cells located in on the inside of the eye could help us to predict the beginning of heart disease, kidney disease, and other indications of ageing. This was the first investigation to show the “retinal age-gap” as a reliable predictor of mortality in the overall.
“The significant association between retinal age gap and non-cardiovascular/non-cancer mortality, together with the growing evidence of the link between eye and brain, may support the notion that the retina is the ‘window’ of neurological diseases,” the authors write.
As only 20 participants of the study lost their lives because of dementia, researchers did not have the ability to connect this particular brain disorder to the health of the retina.
They also point out that cardiovascular-related deaths have gone down in recent years, as medicine continues to prevent what would once have been fatal events.
This suggests that the retina’s health may still be a significant eye for cardiovascular health even though it was not associated with death from cardiovascular causes.
Studies in the past, for example the retina, have revealed that photographs of the retina could aid in predicting cardiovascular risk factors.
“This body of work supports the hypothesis that the retina plays an important role in the aging process and is sensitive to the cumulative damages of aging which increase the mortality risk,” the authors conclude.
Other predictors of biological age, including neuroimaging, DNA methylation timer, and the transcriptome aging clock aren’t as reliable like the age-related gap between retinas seems to be. These methods are also expensive, time-consuming and even invasive.
The retina, in contrast it can be scanned in just 5 minutes. If we can find out more about how this layer of tissues is linked to the other body parts The clinician could have an incredible new tool on their side.