Your Eyes May Signal Your Risk for Stroke, Dementia

THURSDAY, March 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Your eyes may be a window into the health of your brain, a new study indicates.

 

Researchers found that older adults with the eye disease retinopathy were at increased risk of having a stroke, as well as possible symptoms of dementia. And on average, they died sooner than people their age without the eye condition.

 

Retinopathy refers to a disease the retina, the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye. It's often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure, both of which can damage the small blood vessels supplying the retina.

 

Retinopathy can lead to vision changes, such as trouble reading or seeing faraway objects. In the later stages, the damaged blood vessels may leak and cause visual disturbances like dark spots or cobweb-like streaks, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI).

 

Studies have linked more severe retinopathy to a higher stroke risk -- possibly because both involve diseased blood vessels.

 

In the new study, researchers found that people with signs of retinopathy were twice as likely to report a history of stroke, versus those with no evidence of the eye disease. Similarly, they were 70% more likely to report memory problems -- a potential indicator of dementia.

 

Over the next decade, people with the most severe retinopathy faced a two to three times higher risk of dying.

 

It's not clear whether retinopathy actually foretells a future stroke or memory issues, said lead researcher Dr. Michelle Lin, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Study participants were asked about stroke history and memory problems at the same time they were evaluated for retinopathy. It's not clear which conditions came first, Lin said.

 

The next step, she added, is to follow patients with retinopathy over time, to see whether the condition predicts higher stroke risk -- and whether detecting retinopathy makes a difference in that risk.

 

Lin will present the findings at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting, being held virtually March 17-19. Studies reported at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

 

Read the full article here: https://www.webmd.com/stroke/news/20210311/your-eyes-may-signal-your-risk-for-stroke-dementia