Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth, Head of MedUni Vienna's Department of Ophthalmology and Optometry said, "It is all about the right treatment for the right patient at the right time." And looking into the eye – using digital techniques and analyzing Big Data also provides an accurate picture of a person's general medical condition , facilitates early diagnosis and treatment and makes for transparent patients.
"As a window to the condition of a person's brain and vascular system, the retina offers huge insights into their Life Science data," explained Schmidt-Erfurth at today's press conference on ART 2017. In collaboration with the Department of Medicine III and the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, it will be possible for doctors at MedUni Vienna to make an on-the-sport diagnosis of diabetes from the eye, using the first automated digital retinal screening technique , without the help of an ophthalmologist .
In terms of diagnostic imaging , the eye is a unique part of the human body. Using optical coherence tomography ( OCT ) technology, 40,000 scans are produced within 1.2 seconds, with a total volume of 65 million voxels. The term voxel is a contraction of "volume" and "element" and refers to a grid point in a three-dimensional grid and overall to a huge volume of information about a patient's retina .
"A digital image of the retina provides us with an enormous amount of data, offering information about a person's entire personal and medical Life Data ," explained Schmidt-Erfurth. "Not only about existing or potential diseases, but also about lifestyle." For example, the retina shows how old a person is, their gender, smoking habits, blood pressure and whether they have diabetes, or at least an increased risk of developing it.
"It has hitherto not been possible for us, as internists, to look into the eye, because we lacked diagnostic experience and did not have the necessary equipment in our department. Diabetes and high blood pressure are very common conditions, and in many patients , result in long-term retinal damage, "explained Florian Kiefer.
In addition, "by incorporating these new technologies into clinical care , we will be able to obtain a much more accurate picture of our patients' general health, so that we will not only be able to offer them individual information and advice but also custom treatments This innovative approach represents a further important step towards better comprehensive care of the rapidly increasing number of diabetics. "
Moreover, it might be possible in the future to detect diseases of internal organs, such as the kidneys, or age-related problems and neurological diseases from the retina . A large number of digital techniques are used in the management of eye conditions, with the aim of improving standards of ophthalmological care.
Digital retinal scanning is an additional revolutionary step in this direction. However, it also opens up a whole universe of potential applications, far beyond purely medical ones and an essential change to the job description of doctors in the near future . Under the banner: "The future is here to stay" , the ART will provide a forum for lively debate between experts.