Professor Mary Haan from the University of California was the lead author of a study that found people with mild vascular disease that causes damage to the retina (retinopathy) in the eye are more likely to have problems with thinking and memory skills. That’s because they may also have vascular disease in the brain. The study found that the damage was mild enough to not cause significant symptoms.
The study was published in the 14 March 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Problems with the tiny blood vessels in the eye may be a sign that there are also problems with the blood vessels in the brain that can lead to cognitive problems,” said Prof. Haan.
Problems with the tiny blood vessels in the eye may be a sign that there are also problems with the blood vessels…
The study involved 511 women with an average age of 69. The women took tests of their thinking and memory skills every year for up to 10 years. Their eye health was tested about four years into the study and scans were taken of their brains about eight years into the study.
The study found that on average, women with retinopathy had lower scores on the cognitive tests and more areas of small vascular damage within the brain than those women who did not have retinopathy. Even with adjustment for high blood pressure and diabetes, which can be a factor in vascular issues in the eye and brain, the results remained the same.