Austrian researchers say digital scan of patient's eye may accurately depict general health

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A research team at the Medical University of Vienna is applying artificial intelligence to digital images of patients' retinas, the university announced Nov. 28.

The team, comprising medical physics and biomedical engineering researchers, is analyzing optical coherence tomography images of patient retinas using AI algorithms. They said an individual's retina changes based on a variety of factors, including age, gender and smoking habits.

"A digital image of the retina provides us with an enormous amount of data, offering information about a person's entire personal and medical life data," explained Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, MD, professor and chair of the department of ophthalmology and optometry at the Medical University of Vienna.

The researchers' goal for the project is to refine the AI algorithms until they can make on-the-spot diagnoses of diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions associated with long-term retinal damage.

"By incorporating these new technologies into clinical care, we will be able to obtain a much more accurate picture of our patients' general health, so that we will not only be able to offer them individual information and advice but also customized treatments," said Florian Kiefer, MD, PhD, an associate professor at the Medical University of Vienna's department of medicine.

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