A new way to detect heart risk

A simple eye test could “revolutionise” the discovery of the risk of heart conditions, research has established.

Funded by Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke (NICHS), researchers have been functioning on a camera-based test observing the blood vessels at the front of the eye.

Currently around 40% of deaths in Northern Ireland are triggered by heart disease, NICHS said.

Professor Tara Moore from Ulster University stated the test is less expensive than existing detection techniques.

“Generally, it’s only conceivable to detect heart conditions or signs of malfunction through a series of hi-tech scans or invasive tests, all of which involve admittance to specialist clinicians in the NHS and associated costs,” she stated.

“The simple eye test offers direct and inexpensive annotations of small blood vessels at the front of the eyes – this microcirculation represents the quickest site at which endothelial dysfunction can be observed, and we hope the technology we are emerging will have the ability to raise concerns about cardiac health, based on the state of these eye vessels.”

Researchers state the test could see screening for heart health comprised in a standard high street eye test.

The team states the test could also be advanced so anyone could use it on their smartphones.

Prof Moore added: “Our eventual goal is to develop a medical technology capable of catching cardiovascular disease through early caution signs we can see in these small vessels in the eye.

“A vital ambition for the team is to make this technology obtainable to all, regardless of socio-economic status, location or age.”