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Are eyes a window to heart disease

The pupil of an eye

The Bupa Health Foundation's partnership with the Centre for Eye Research to study the use of retinal scan technology is just one example of how we’re investing in a range of initiatives that have the potential to make a real impact on advancing health in Australia.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in Australia, and one of the keys to successful treatment is early detection. So researchers have been looking for a way of identifying potential signs of CVD at the earliest stage possible so long-term damage can be minimised.

The Bupa Health Foundation, a charitable body funded by Bupa, is proud to partner with the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) for this important study. CERA have explored the theory that blood vessels in the back of the eye reflect changes in blood vessels in other parts of the body - specifically the brain, kidneys and heart.

Identifying and treating CVD

CERA, with the support of the Bupa Health Foundation hopes to demonstrate that a non-invasive retinal scan will improve the reliability of identifying CVD. As such, health practitioners will be able to detect early indicators of damage to blood vessels and this will allow them to start treatment before the damage worsens.

The researchers hope to make this technology viable for health practitioners in the next three to five years, potentially saving many lives every year. Additionally, the research could lead to optometrists and ophthalmologists playing a key role in screening for risks and improving the management of life-threatening health problems.

Other diseases uncovered using this technology

There is great potential for the use of this technology in the screening and management for conditions in addition to CVD, such as high blood pressure, stroke and even dementia.

At Bupa, we’re committed to finding new ways to help all Australians take positive steps towards achieving their best physical, mental and emotional health. From fit and healthy Australians, to those living with a chronic disease, we believe health research and education is an important part of this commitment.

The Bupa Health Foundation has partnered with organisations involved in over 60 outstanding Australian health initiatives nationally, with a combined investment of around $17 million. Of these projects, more than eight have been specific to cardiovascular disease.

Read about Bupa's other health initiatives


This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals and to the best of their knowledge is current and based on reputable sources of medical research.

It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice. Bupa Australia Pty Ltd makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the recommendations or assessments and is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information, except that which cannot be excluded by law.

We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health. For more details on how we produce our health content, visit the About our Health Information page.