Important Role of 3D Eye Scans in Battling Kidney Disease

December 05, 2023

A recent study suggests that 3D retinal scans could revolutionize early detection and monitoring of kidney disease, providing a non-invasive and efficient diagnostic tool. These scans have the potential to reveal vital clues about kidney health, aiding in disease progression tracking, particularly in the asymptomatic early stages. 

The technology addresses the current limitation of screening tests, which only detect kidney disease when approximately half of the organ's function is lost. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh utilized highly magnified images to examine changes in the retina, the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye, offering a swift and non-invasive method for monitoring kidney health.

The eye uniquely allows observation of microvascular circulation, a process often impacted in kidney disease. The study investigated the use of 3D retinal scans, obtained through optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology, to identify and predict the progression of kidney disease. Analyzing OCT images from 204 patients at different disease stages and 86 healthy volunteers, the researchers observed that patients with chronic kidney disease exhibited thinner retinas. 

Moreover, the thinning of the retina correlated with the decline in kidney function and reversed after successful kidney transplantation. Notably, patients with the most severe form of the disease experienced rapid retinal thickening post-surgery. 

This research highlights the promising potential of 3D retinal scans as a transformative tool in enhancing the diagnosis and monitoring of kidney disease.