The eyes are the window to the soul, at least that’s the saying. But apparently, it’s also the window to see your cardiovascular health. Somehow that just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.
Google, everyone’s favorite tech giant, has been using artificial intelligence to view images of people’s retinas, and teaching the AI to determine if someone is more likely to have a heart attack or stroke within the next 5 years.
Their success rate was around 70%, which doesn’t sound great, but it sounds a lot better when compared to drawing blood and measuring cholesterol, which has just a 72% success rate. I’d much rather have a picture taken of my eye(s) than have to sit down in a doctor’s office and get stuck with a needle.
The Original Goal
Google’s Lily Peng has been a lead researcher on the project and said that the initial purpose of her work was to predict eye disease. However, they branched further from that when they realized their AI was able to predict whether the person was a smoker, or even predict their blood pressure.
Now the AI can look at images of retinas and look at your blood vessels to predict your heart’s health to the same accuracy as a doctor with a needle and testing equipment. Well, within 2% at least.
The fact that the AI has been developed – essentially by accident – to find indications of cardiovascular health issues at the same rate as in-person testing, shows great promise for the field of medicine to be infiltrated by AI.
Not only should this specific AI be able to get better and better at finding signs of heart disease, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s a pretty simple idea to have your AI scan images and to teach it to cross-reference the images with known sets of data. If we continue to try to use artificial intelligence to enhance our understanding of diagnosis and early-warning-signs, the medical community could make huge strides forward over the coming years.
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