OCT scans show signs of Parkinson’s seven years before clinical presentation

Research led by Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology has used AI to identify markers of Parkinson’s

An older woman is pictured in profile close to a head rest for an optical coherence tomography device
Moorfields Eye Hospital

New research published in Neurology has described the identification of markers of Parkinson’s disease on average seven years before clinical presentation.

The study, which was led by researchers from Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology, involved analysis of the AlzEye dataset using artificial intelligence. This dataset was enabled by Insight, the world's largest database of retinal images and associated clinical data.

University Hospitals Birmingham consultant ophthalmologist, Alistair Denniston, highlighted: “This work demonstrates the potential for eye data, harnessed by the technology to pick up signs and changes too subtle for humans to see. We can now detect very early signs of Parkinson’s, opening up new possibilities for treatment.”

Siegfried Wagner, of Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, shared that he continued to be amazed at the discoveries made through eye scans.

“While we are not yet ready to predict whether an individual will develop Parkinson’s, we hope that this method could soon become a pre-screening tool for people at risk of disease,” he said.

“Finding signs of a number of diseases before symptoms emerge means that, in the future, people could have the time to make lifestyle changes to prevent some conditions arising, and clinicians could delay the onset and impact of lifechanging neurodegenerative disorders,” Wagner added.