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Identify diseases and disease risks early by looking into the eye
The number of diabetes diseases has been increasing for years. However, many sufferers often do not know about their illness for a long time. A look in the eye could provide information. Because thanks to modern technology, it can be seen on the retina whether someone has diabetes. Other diseases and disease risks can also be identified in this way.
More and more diabetics
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of diabetes patients worldwide has been increasing massively for years. The disease continues to increase in Germany as well. However, many patients are unaware of their own diabetes. A digital look in the eye could create certainty. Because this can not only provide information about the age and gender of a person, but also whether he has diabetes or at least has an increased risk of it. This could prevent secondary diseases.
Right therapy at the right time
Personalized medicine or "precision medicine" is the most important trend in medicine in the 21st century, the Medical University of Vienna writes in a current press release.
"It's about the right therapy for the right patient at the right time," says Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, head of the University Clinic for Ophthalmology and Optometry at MedUni Vienna.
In particular, looking into the eye - with the help of digital methods and the evaluation of big data - also enables a precise view of the overall medical condition of the person, makes early diagnosis and therapy possible, but also makes him a transparent patient.
Diagnosing diabetes in the eye
"As a window into the vascular and brain state of a person, the retina offers enormous insights into life science data from the patient," explains Schmidt-Erfurth.
In cooperation with the University Clinic for Internal Medicine III and the clinical department for endocrinology and metabolism, it will be possible at the MedUni Vienna to diagnose diabetes in the eye with the first automatic, digital retinal screening, and this without the help of an ophthalmologist.
Diagnostic imaging on the eye is unique in the entire human body. Based on the technology of OCT (optical coherence tomography), 40,000 scans with a total volume of 65 million voxels are created within 1.2 seconds.
Voxel is composed of the English "Volume" and "Elements", it is a grid point in a three-dimensional grid and overall a huge volume of information about the retina of each patient.
The data of optical coherence tomography are analyzed using automated algorithms that are developed on the basis of artificial intelligence.
Both the device and the AIM method are developments of the Medical University of Vienna, in particular at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and in the Christian Doppler Laboratory OPTIMA under the direction of Schmidt-Erfurth.
Recognize the risk of disease on the retina
"The digital view of the retina provides us with enormous amounts of data that make information about all personal and medical life data available," says the expert.
"Not just about current or impending illnesses, but also about lifestyle."
This shows on the retina how old a person is, gender, smoking behavior, blood pressure and whether someone has diabetes or at least an increased risk of developing it.
“Up to now, internists were unable to look into the eye on site due to a lack of diagnostic experience and equipment. Diabetes and high blood pressure are very widespread diseases and lead to long-term retinal damage in many patients, ”explains Florian Kiefer, internist at the University Clinic for Internal Medicine III at MedUni Vienna.
Insight into a patient's state of health
"The introduction of the new technologies mentioned into clinical care will enable us to gain a much more precise insight into the health status of our patients and thus not only enable individual advice and information for patients, but also the tailored adaptation of therapy concepts," explains the expert.
"This innovative approach represents another important step towards improved comprehensive care for the rapidly increasing number of diabetics."
In addition, diseases of internal organs such as the kidneys, age-related problems and neurological diseases can also be read from the retina in the future.
"A large number of digital methods are already in use for the management of eye diseases, always with the aim of improving the standard of ophthalmic care," explains Schmidt-Erfurth.
“The digital scan of the retina is another revolutionary step in this direction. However, this also opens up a universe of possible uses far beyond pure medicine. And a fundamental change in the medical profession in the near future. ”(Ad)