The eyes may have long been regarded as the windows to the soul, but recent studies have indicated that it may have a significant impact on the brain. Individuals who are suffering from minimal to serious eye damage that involves retinal blood vessels brought upon by vascular eye disease may affect the brain certain brain functions, such as its memory and thinking ability.
The blood vessels in the eyes are said to play a vital role in determining whether the brain is functioning properly. An Arizona ophthalmologist or any eye doctor in your locality can perform an eye screening to look for any possible damage in the blood vessels of the retina, otherwise known as retinopathy, which would very much help eye care professionals to identify individuals who are at risk for memory problems.
Is a Healthy Eye a Sign of a Healthy Brain?
One of the complications of diabetes and unstable blood pressure is retinopathy, a primary cause of blindness among adults in the United States. Such conditions have been associated with a strong chance for a decline in the brain’s memory and thinking functions.
This is why a group of researchers, which includes researcher Mary Haan, DrPH, MPH, of the University of California, San Francisco, have carefully examined and analyzed data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Women’s Health Initiative, which was published on the journal Neurology, included 500 women who have undergone mental testing every year for up to 10 years to evaluate their memory and thinking abilities over that period of time.
The participants were also asked to have a single eye examination four years after entering the study, while brain scans were performed eight years after the beginning of the study. The results were quite interesting as only 39 of the participants have retinopathy and their vision is not quite worse than those without any eye problem.
However, it did show how those women with retinopathy had, at an average, lower test results on memory and thinking exams than those who did not exhibit signs of retinal blood vessel damage. The brain scans also revealed how these women had more instances of blood vessel damage to the brain.
This shows how retinopathy, even at an early stage, can either be a precursor or an indication that there is a small vessel disease in the brain, which causes a slight decline in a person’s mental performance. One visit to an Arizona retinal surgeon or an eye doctor in your area would enable you to check whether you have retinopathy and what treatment options you have.
According to Mary Haan, the findings suggest that even very early retinopathy may be an indicator for small vessel disease and a risk factor for vessel-related memory and thinking declines. She did share, however, that studies with longer follow-up times are still need in order to further confirm the studies.
While it may be a good idea to start looking after your eyes to to minimize the chances of a decline in your brain’s cognitive functions, it still is a good idea to ask professional advice from a Phoenix ophthalmologist regarding any preventive measures or procedures that you can do in order to maintain healthy eyes.