If a test could indicate the likelihood of dying within the next 10 years, would you take such a test?
An international team of researchers has discovered a link between the biological age of a person’s retinas and their risk of death. The results indicate that a simple eye test may provide doctors with a clue into how long you have left to live.
A study of almost 47,000 adults found that people whose retinas were “older” than their actual age were more likely to die over the next decade.
Researchers monitored the participants, all between 40 and 69 years-old, for an average of 11 years. Each person had their fundus — the back surface of the eye — scanned as part of the UK Biobank study. The international team compared each retina’s “biological age” with that person’s chronological age — discovering a “retinal age gap” in many participants.
Large gaps were associated with 49 to 67 percent higher risks of death from any cause other than cardiovascular disease or cancer. This was after taking into account potentially influential factors such as high blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), lifestyle habits, and ethnicity.
For each one-year increase in the age gap, scientists found a two and three percent rise in the risk of death from any cause or a specific cause, respectively.
The new findings, combined with previous research, add weight to “the hypothesis that the retina plays an important role in the aging process and is sensitive to the cumulative damages of aging which increase the mortality risk.”
“Our findings indicate that retinal age gap might be a potential biomarker of aging that is closely related to risk of mortality, implying the potential of retinal image as a screening tool for risk stratification and delivery of tailored interventions,” the study authors write in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
So what do you think? Would you take the test?
I certainly would.
While it would certainly be unnerving to learn that you have less than 10 years to live, I think the study suggests that armed with such info, a person could take proactive steps to increase their health.
I’d want to know if the test predicts I am going to die in 10 years. If it did, then I would be quite proactive in trying to improve my health.
Or maybe I could cheat death by getting a double eye transplant with eyes that perform better on this retinal scan test. Imagine if you could keep repeating this; a new set of eyes every few years, and thus never getting a prediction of dying within the next 10 years.
I may have just discovered the fountain of youth…
*source and image from StudyFinds