AI predicts age, gender and smoking status from retinal images

Artificial intelligence can determine cardiovascular risk factors by assessing a fundus image


While some believe that the eyes are a window into the soul, new research suggests that they could also reveal key biographical information – such as someone’s gender and age.

A study, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, investigated whether artificial intelligence technology could be used to determine risk factors for cardiovascular disease from a retinal scan.

The scientists reported that deep learning models were capable of predicting an individual’s age, gender, systolic blood pressure, smoking status and whether someone had suffered a past major cardiac event by analysing fundus images.

The models were trained using data from 284,335 patients and validated using two separate datasets of 12,026 and 999 patients.

The authors highlighted that the artificial intelligence used anatomical features, such as the optic disc and blood vessels, to calculate its predictions.