Researchers at the Centre for Eye Research Australia believe that blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye reflect changes in blood vessels in other parts of the body -- particularly the brain, kidneys and heart.
Cardiovascular diseases change the appearance of blood vessels in eye, so the researchers are using computers to analyze images of vessels in the retina to see if the non-invasive procedure can accurately determine a person's risk of heart attack or stroke.
The team has taken thousands of eye images and developed a program to recognize common features of conditions that cause damage of the retina.
Finding and treating high risk people early is key, since a person who exhibits symptoms of cardiovascular disease already has had damage done to their body.
Successfully doing so could avoid heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease remains the top killer in the world, claiming 29 percent of people who die each year.
Doctors currently determine risk by taking individual factors into account, such smoking habits, family history, weight, blood cholesterol and blood pressure. More extensive and sometimes invasive tests, such as an angiogram, are used once a person develops symptoms.
An early, non-invasive test such as this could help avoid hospitalization and save lives.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com