Eye Health May Show Insight to Brain Health

It is joked that “eyes are the mirrors to your heart,” but they saying may need to change to “eyes are the mirrors to your health.” Eye health gains more and more attention; after recent studies indicate other severe health issues are discovered through routine eye exams. The trend continues, as a recent US study proposes that screenings for retinopathy serves as an indicator for brain health. Data from the research show that women age 65 and over with any signs retinopathy, were more likely to show a cognitive regression of the brain. The exams give light to aging issues, such as dementia. This correlation and link solidifies the importance of eye health and routine comprehensive exams.
The complete findings, found in Neurology March 2012 issue, illustrates that an uncomplicated eye test could delve into early signs on retinopathy. Consequently allowing earlier diagnosis and treatments ultimately slowing the process or stopping the disease all together. Furthermore, this information provides insight on early diagnosis and treatment to reduce cognitive degeneration to dementia.
Retinopathy is an eye disease, resulting in blood vessels collecting in the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a fine layer of light-sensitive tissue along the back of the eye. Light rays are focused onto the retina, where they are communicated to the brain and translated as the images seen.
The study focused on over 500 women over almost a ten-year period. In overview, the results showed:
An increase of the participants developed retinopathy, and on average, their scores on the cognition tests were worse than the women who did not develop the eye disease.
Brain scans illustrated, the women with retinopathy had more damage in their brain blood vessels, with 47% having more ischemic lesions or holes in the overall blood vessel structure, and 68% in the parietal lobe.
Women with retinopathy showed more thickening of the white matter tracks that transmit signals in the brain.
The link between brain function and retinopathy shows a link that is imperative to find early to reduce many harsh side effects of cognitive regression to dementia. The causes of retinopathy are typically high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. Early lifestyle changes may be able to slow the process give insight to possible cures for the diseases. The research may also be manipulated to develop drug interventions for the mind-stealing disease early on when they have a better chance of working properly.
Further studies are needed further evaluate the role of retinal screening in individuals at risk for cognitive impairment or dementia.
The most important lesson is to remember that all facets of one’s health work together. Remember how important eye health.