Researchers at the Centre for Eye Research (CERA) have discovered a method of checking the health of a person’s brain by looking deep into the eyes.
The non-invasive method of detecting ‘silent’ brain damage could lead to new ways to prevent the condition.
Silent brain infarcts, or ‘mini-strokes’, are caused by blocked blood supply to the brain. The damage, which is linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia, has no symptoms and, until now, could only be detected using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
A 10 year CERA study has found that people with abnormalities of the retina are two to three times more likely to experience silent brain infarcts within a 10 year period than people without abnormalities.
Through our study, we’ve discovered a unique, non-invasive way to view the health of the brain and detect damage before it shows up on brain scans or causes clinical symptoms
CERA Research Fellow, Dr. Danny Cheung (pictured), says the findings suggest that a person’s risk of developing silent brain infarct and its associated conditions can be assessed using retinal imaging.
A conventional MRI scan can reveal only the damage caused by a mini-stroke and, until now, there has been no easy way to evaluate a person’s risk of suffering one.
“Through our study, we’ve discovered a unique, non-invasive way to view the health of the brain and detect damage before it shows up on brain scans or causes clinical symptoms,” Dr. Cheung says.
Dr Cheung hopes that one day, this simple test will be readily available to people who are at a high risk of stroke and dementia due to family history or other factors.
“The test could be an early warning to people with retinal abnormalities to better control risk factors like smoking, hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol, to help prevent silent brain infarct.”
To read more on this story go to mivision.com.au/eyes-are-windows-to-the-brain