Can an Eye Exam Diagnose Parkinson’s & Other Neurodegenerative Diseases?

Eye exams & Parkinson's DiseaseEveryone has heard the phrase, “Eyes are the window to the soul,” but are they also windows to the brain? Researchers in Ontario, Canada are currently conducting a study to determine if a simple eye exam could diagnose Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a nervous system disorder that progresses over time and affects movement in an individual. Symptoms of this disease include tremors, rigid muscles, impaired posture, and balance and speech problems. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s.

By diagnosing this disease before symptoms start to appear, doctors could pinpoint who’s at risk and also come up with new treatment options.

Chris Hudson, a scientist and optometrist who is co-leading this study, is considering a different approach to looking for signs of Parkinson’s: examining the patient’s eyes.

Are Eyes the Windows to the Brain?

Because the retinas of patients who suffer from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other disorders that affect the brain seem to undergo small changes before symptoms start to show, Hudson suggests that the retina of the eye could play a big part in seeing nerve cell death in the brain.

During this study, which also examines Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic lateral Sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia, and vascular cognitive impairment after stroke, researchers are looking at 600 patients and routinely taking images of their brain, tracking their eye movement and looking at their genes.

With this study, Hudson hopes to develop new drugs for these neurodegenerative diseases, as well as diagnosing them early on.

Contact Raleigh Eye Center to Schedule an Eye Exam

In addition to hopefully someday being able to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases, annual eye exams can detect early signs of high cholesterol, diabetes and even cancer. Have peace of mind about your eyes and health by scheduling an eye exam with Raleigh Eye Center today.