According to Australian scientists, there's a way to check the health state of a person brain and that is by looking into the eyes.
Images of the tiny blood vessels located in the retina at the rear part of the eyeball are used to assess a person's long-term risk of harmful mini strokes that can eventually lead to dementia or cause a major stroke.
The research that involved studying retinal images and MRI brain scans of 810 middle-aged Australians over a ten-year period was led by Dr Ning Cheung from the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA).
In the retina, according to Dr Cheung, you can observe all kinds of changes include bleeding and leakages.
He said those changes are called retinopathy and they are often related with diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).
The important thing after the study, Dr Cheung said would be that when a person has that kind of retinal changes, doctors will be able to tell that their brain will most likely develop changes too.
It's a way to predict what is going to happen in the brain, said Dr Cheung.
The study findings discovered that participants who had abnormalities in their retina had 2 to 3 times more chance of experiencing a mini-stroke - a silent brain infarct characterized by a blockage of blood supply to a small area of the brain- during their ten-year study period.
Although they carry absent or extremely minimal effect on cognitive function, the mini-stroke does increase the risk for a more harmful stroke or dementia at a later date.
The damage caused by a mini-stroke has usually been revealed by the conventional MRI scan. There has been no simple method to assess a person's risk of experiencing one, until now.
According to Dr Cheung, the early signs are exhibited by mini-strokes and it is vital for that to be detected earlier.
Retinal images were a unique, non-invasive way to view the health of the brain, and the procedure is more cost-effective compared to other medical imaging and technology that are already available.
The research is hoped to inspire further clinical tests for doctors to focus on a person's mini-stroke risk and build a foundation to cut down cases of dementia and stroke, said Dr Cheung.