Retinal photos help in faster detection of disease

Our retina says much about our health. Retinal photographs will soon allow us to know a patient's health literally at a glance. The smallest blood vessels of our body, also called the microvasculature, can be imaged using such a retinal photo.
These blood vessels show strong similarities with the central circulatory system and the vascular system of the brain. Changes in the thickness and pattern of blood vessels are considered early indicators of the development or progression of disease.

The risk of high blood pressure, a major factor in the development of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, can therefore be detected in the blood vessels of our retina, with the aid of image analysis of a retinal photo. The image analysis can also be used to monitor diabetes and in following up Alzheimer's disease. The THEIA (moniToring Health using rEtinal Imaging and predictive Analytics) project partners are developing a measurement and analysis platform that can be used for the early detection of cardiovascular diseases and for patient stratification.
 

VITO's role

VITO together with software producer DCILABS is developing a computerised technique for analysing the blood vessel pattern in the retina. They are also contributing to the evaluation of a portable retinal camera that can capture and analyse images, and then place this medical information online. This technology can be used for mobile health monitoring in less developed countries. VITO, for example, is using retinal photography to conduct research into the development of cardiovascular disease in Sub-Saharan Africa and is creating an image database in South Africa.

EndoAfrica – studying cardiovascular health in Sub-Saharan Africa: facts & figures
  • Duration: June 2014 – June 2017
  • Budget: € 130,000
     
The smallest blood vessels of our body, also called the microvasculature, can be imaged using such a retinal photo.