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Retinal damage can indicate risk of stroke or dementia, says study

Retinal damage can indicate risk of stroke or dementia, says study

New York: Those among the old who have retinopathy, an eye disease, are at increased risk of having a stroke or dementia, says a new study report. The study, which is yet to be presented at the International Stroke Conference 2021, subjected two groups of people, one diagnosed with retinopathy and the other not. The result inferred that those with the disease are twice more likely to have a stroke and 70 per cent more likely to have dementia.

5,543 adults of the average age of 56 years were subjected to the study. The research team examined the association of retinopathy with stroke, dementia and the risk of death. Participants were interviewed about their medical history and health behaviours and were given the retinal scan photo to look for signs of retinopathy. The risk factors, including age, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking habit, were considered for calculating the odds.

"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," said researcher Michelle P Lin from Mayo Clinic Jacksonville in Florida.

"If you have retinopathy, work closely with your primary care doctor to alter your vascular risk factors and ask to be screened for cognitive impairment. You may be referred to a neurologist for evaluation and possibly a brain MRI," Lin added.

Studies have also inferred that people diagnosed with this disease are more likely to have brain damages on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Retinopathy refers to damage to the retina caused by abnormal blood flow.

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