Your Eyes May Signal Your Risk for Stroke, Dementia

diabetic vision lossYour 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.