Retinal Damage May Provide Warning Signs of Stroke & Dementia

Macro photo of an eye for an eye microsurgery clinic, diseases in ophthalmologyPhotos of the retina may provide warning signs that a person is at an increased risk of stroke and dementia. This statement comes after preliminary research from the Mayo Clinic showed that people with damage to the retina are more likely to have signs of disease in the brain

The study concluded that patients with severe retinopathy, which is damage to the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye, are more likely to have a diseased-looking brain on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The lead author of the study, Michelle P. Lin, said: “The retina is a window to the brain. A retinal photo that shows a magnified look at the back of the eye, including the retina and optic nerve, is cheaper and faster to perform than an MRI, so we’re wondering if it might be a good screening tool to see who could benefit from a referral to a neurologist for a brain MRI.”


For the study, researchers analyzed data from 5,543 adults with an average age of 56 years who participated in the annual U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) between 2005 and 2008. Participants were interviewed about many aspects of their medical history and health behaviors. They also received a retinal scan photo to look for any signs of retinopathy.

It was found that patients with retinopathy were more than twice as likely to have had a stroke than participants who did not have the eye disease. Almost 70% of these participants were also more likely to have dementia and die within the next ten years, with each increase in the severity of retinopathy associated with a higher risk of death.

These findings were calculated after adjusting for risk factors, including age, diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking.

Photos Taken on a Smart Phone

The study also found that retinal photos don’t always need to be taken at the eye doctor’s office. Retinal photos can also be easily taken by a smartphone camera or via a smartphone adapter. This makes it very easy for people to take control of their health and be able to look for any signs of retinopathy.

Researchers from the study suggest patients with retinopathy work closely with their primary care doctors and ask to be screened for cognitive impairment. By getting in to see a neurologist and having a brain MRI, the risk of dementia can be reduced if caught early.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.