3D Eye Scans Have Potential to Monitor Kidney Disease


Dec 6, 2023

3D Eye Scans Have Potential to Monitor Kidney Disease

Eye Scans as New Frontier in Kidney Disease Detection

The University of Edinburgh has made a groundbreaking discovery in kidney health monitoring. Utilizing 3D eye scans, researchers have unearthed crucial insights into kidney health, potentially revolutionizing the way kidney disease is monitored. This novel method is particularly significant as kidney disease often lacks symptoms in its early stages.

The technology holds great promise for early diagnosis, surpassing current screening tests that fail to detect the condition until significant kidney function loss. Researchers have employed highly detailed retinal images, observing the layer of tissue at the back of the eye that senses light and sends signals to the brain. These images offer a rapid, non-invasive method to assess kidney health.

The eye, uniquely, allows direct observation of microvascular circulation – a key process often impaired in kidney disease. The University of Edinburgh team used optical coherence tomography (OCT), a 3D imaging technology, to examine the retina and predict kidney disease progression.

OCT scanners, commonly found in opticians, utilize light waves to generate detailed cross-sectional retinal images in minutes. The study involved analyzing OCT images from 204 kidney disease patients at various stages, including transplant recipients, and comparing them with 86 healthy individuals. Notably, patients with chronic kidney disease exhibited thinner retinas, which further thinned as kidney function deteriorated.

This thinning reversed post-successful kidney transplant, with severe cases showing significant retinal thickening post-surgery. With the rising prevalence of kidney disease, often linked to diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, this research is timely.

Future developments could make regular eye exams a tool for early detection and monitoring, potentially halting disease progression and guiding lifestyle modifications to minimize health risks. Additionally, this technology, supported by Heidelberg Engineering's imaging platform, could advance new drug development by tracking retinal changes that reflect kidney response to treatments.

However, further research, including extensive clinical trials, is required before this method becomes routine. In the UK alone, over 7.2 million people, more than 10% of the population, suffer from chronic kidney disease, costing the NHS approximately £7 billion annually.

Published in Nature Communications, this study marks a significant step forward. Dr. Neeraj (Bean) Dhaun of the University of Edinburgh highlights the eye as a valuable window into kidney health, aiding early disease identification and treatment initiation. It also opens doors for clinical trials and drug development for a disease that has been challenging to treat.

Dr. Aisling McMahon of Kidney Research UK acknowledges the research's potential to offer a less invasive monitoring method for kidney patients, who often endure harsh treatments and invasive procedures. The organization continues to support this promising approach, exploring its use in early diagnosis and intervention in kidney disease.

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Eye scans can provide crucial insights into kidney health, study finds

About the Author

Rich Foreman brings over 30 years of technology leadership to his role of CEO and Co-Founder of KidneySoft.  As founding CTO, Rich led the team that developed the CordicoShield / CordicoFire Wellness App. Cordico was honored with the Sacramento Innovation Award in 2021. After achieving a 7 digit ARR, Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Rich co-authored his book, "Tap into the Mobile Economy." Rich's blog was listed in Top 20 Marketing Mobile Blogs of 2014. He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, 1170 Tech AM PowerDrive, Business Radio Money 105.5, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee. Rich is also the Founding Director of the Sacramento Chapter of Startup Grind and served a term as Utility Commissioner for the City of Folsom. Rich is a regular contributor to TechWire.net and StartupSac. Rich was the Co-founder of Apptology which was named Small Business of the Year in 2014 by the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber. He was also the Founding Chief Technology Officer at Cordico. Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020.  Rich also served 4 years as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineer Corps.

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