JOPLIN, Mo. — The earlier you diagnose a condition, the better the chance doctors can effectively treat it. That’s the goal behind combining information from an existing scan with artificial intelligence.

It’s been said the eyes are a window to the soul. Turns out, they can be a way to detect health problems too.

“I mean it’s revolutionized how we treat Glaucoma and how we pick up Glaucoma at an early stage for treatment. It’s almost standard of care at this point. Also, things like Macular Degeneration, very, very important, Diabetes, Diabetic Retinopathy, fluid in the macula, all these things, Macular Hole, people have heard about, all these things are easily diagnosed,” said Dr. Kevin Gardner, optometrist at 4-States Vision Express.

This machine, called Optical Coherence Tomography, or O.C.T., electronically scans all ten layers of the retina. Different layers are affected by different diseases. But what if you have AI analyze all that information and teach it to look for certain commonalities? The result could be the ability to detect some maladies years in advance.

“Neurological disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disease, Arthritis, Lupus, these kinds of things,” said Dr. Gardner.

Researchers at a London hospital claim they have been able to detect Parkinson’s in one patient as many as seven years before they normally would, with the help of AI. Gardner says the benefit of knowing or having a good idea of who might have future disease can give doctors the ability to intervene with treatment and lifestyle changes even before symptoms develop.