Ladies with damage to blood vessels in the eyes were more likely to experience a mental decrease.

Individuals who have a mild vascular disease that damages the eyes’ retinas are more likely to have vascular disease in the brain that causes thinking and memory problems, new research indicates.

The review included 511 ladies with an average age of 69 whose thinking and memory skills were tested each year for 10 years. The women’s eyes were tested around four years into the review, and they underwent brain scans about eight years into the review.

On average, the 39 ladies with retina damage (retinopathy) had lower scores on the cognitive tests than those without retinopathy. The eye damage in these ladies was not serious enough to cause significant symptoms.

The brains of ladies with retinopathy also had more areas with damaged blood vessels than those without retinopathy.

The findings held true even after the specialists accounted for high blood pressure and diabetes, which can be factors in vascular problems in the eyes and brain, the specialists said.

“Problems with the tiny blood vessels in the eye may be an indication that there are also issues with the blood vessels in the brain that can lead to cognitive issues,” study author Mary Haan, of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a news release. “This could be very useful if a simple eye screening could give us an early indication that individuals might be at risk of problems with their brain health.”

Although the review, which appears in the March 14 online problem of Neurology, showed an association between vascular disease in the eyes and memory issue, it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

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