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AI eye scans could detect Parkinson’s disease early in Nigeria

There could be a ray of hope in Nigeria for early detection of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) as prior research had indicated that the disease is not adequately diagnosed in Nigeria.

Now, a recent study in the United Kingdom proposes that artificial intelligence (AI) eye scans may have the ability to identify Parkinson’s disease (PD) in individuals prior to the emergence of symptoms.

Medical research had advised that with the increase in elderly population in Nigeria, it is  crucial to conduct further studies on the occurrence and diagnosis for PD in the country. This requires increased funding, resources, and a skilled team of neurologists and scientists.

But as AI eye scan is set to become a technological breakthrough, is will therefore be a welcome development in the Nigerian healthcare systems.

How the study was conducted

The breakthrough research on early detection of PD through AI scans was conducted by researchers from London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital, and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in the United Kingdom.

The team employed AI to examine a dataset, identifying retinal markers that distinguish individuals with Parkinson’s from those without the condition.

TheTimes learns that this approach holds the promise as a potential pre-screening tool for the disease.

Researchers examined information derived from optical coherence tomography (OCT), a 3D scanning technique that generates highly detailed cross-sectional retinal images.

The data was obtained from a group of 154,830 patients aged 40 and above who had visited eye hospitals in London from 2008 to 2018. This investigation was replicated using data from a medical database, evaluating 67,311 disease-free volunteers aged 40 to 69.

The study revealed that individuals with Parkinson’s exhibited a reduction in thickness of the ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer and inner nuclear layer within the eye.

On average, these indicators were identified seven years before the onset of clinical symptoms. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans, commonly employed by opticians, provide valuable insights into subcutaneous cell layers, making them effective for monitoring eye health.

The researchers propose that examining these layers prior to symptom manifestation could contribute to the earlier detection of the disease.

The procedure was repeated by utilizing information from a medical database, evaluating 67,311 individuals who were healthy volunteers and aged between 40 and 69.

The study uncovered that individuals affected by Parkinson’s displayed a reduction in thickness of both the ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer and inner nuclear layer within the eye.

On average, these telltale signs were detected seven years prior to the appearance of clinical symptoms. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans, frequently employed by opticians, serve as a valuable tool for monitoring eye health, as they unveil layers of cells beneath the skin’s surface.

Based on their findings, researchers propose that scrutinizing these cell layers during the years preceding symptom manifestation could potentially facilitate the earlier detection of the disease.


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