Did you know that certain eye diseases can increase your risk for having a stroke? It makes sense. After all, the eye is essentially an extension of the brain. But the relationship is even more intimate than we originally thought. Now there's evidence that a stroke might increase your risk for eye problems.
Not only that, but this new research has found that the eye is a reflection of what's going on in the brain. Here's why all of this is important.
When you have a stroke, the doctor will put gadolinium into your bloodstream. In healthy individuals, this harmless, transparent chemical will stay in the bloodstream and the kidneys will filter it out of the body. However, when there's damage to the brain, it can move from your blood, through the blood-brain barrier and into the brain. What's interesting is that this chemical lights up on an MRI. So doctors can see where and how much damage there is in the brain.
This new research found something else interesting about gadolinium - it also can leak into the eyes, lighting up the eyes on the MRI. Researchers haven't seen this happen in healthy individuals. One of the researchers said, "It looks like the stroke is influencing the eye, and so the eye is reflective of what is going on in the brain."
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The researchers found that 75% of stroke patients had the gadolinium in the eyes within 24 hours after the stroke. For most patients, the gadolinium was present in the front part of the eye, called the aqueous chamber within just two hours. But for patients who were older, had a history of high blood pressure, and showed other signs of brain aging, the gadolinium moved to a region toward the back of the eye, called the vitreous chamber, after 24 hours.
In a few of the stroke patients, the two-hour scan showed gadolinium in both eye chambers. These strokes tended to cause more damage and affect a larger portion of the brain. So the eye was a very accurate barometer of the stroke. Researchers are hoping this information will allow them to develop a substance that can reveal all of this information without needing an MRI.
"It is much easier for us to look inside somebody's eye than to look into somebody's brain," the researchers said. "So if the eye truly is a window to the brain, we can use one to learn about the other."
Obviously, there's more to this story than the researchers are telling us. You can use this information to help protect both your brain and your eyes. We know that niacin is a great way to protect your brain from having a stroke. Taking 2,000 mg daily can virtually guarantee you'll never have a stroke. And it can protect your eyes. One study out of Australia found that niacin can stop the progression of glaucoma - and may even reverse it. So it's vital you take plenty of niacin every day.
But there's more you can do. Other nutrients can protect your eyes should you suffer from a stroke. Nutrients like vitamin A, bilberry, taurine, and N-acetyl-L-cysteine all can help protect your eyes and your brain. You can find these and other eye protective nutrients in Advanced Vision Formula. Taking it along with niacin could help your brain and your eyes stay healthy the rest of your life.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.