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May 8, 2013

Eye Tests for Brain Trauma

Your eyes may tell more about you than originally thought. The Seattle Times reports that with simple eye tests, doctors could be able to detect neurological damage caused by bomb blasts, concussions, or diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis.

Currently, definitive tests for brain injury can only be conducted via an autopsy. The use of eye scans will provide “a barometer for what might be happening in the brain,” says Elaine Peskind, a psychiatrist at University of Washington.

Through a series of eye scans, this research has shown that victims of bomb blasts have thinner cell layers in their eyes, a greater sensitivity to light, and slower pupil contractions in response to light. Other studies have shown a buildup of specific proteins in the lens which is an indicator of degenerative brain diseases in those who suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

If eye scans are successful in testing for brain damage, they are easily accessible and available commercially. Coaches could use them on the sidelines after an athlete is injured. Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University believes “eye scans could help change [treatment for traumatic brain injury or brain disorders] by providing a way to tell whether a treatment or theory is leading to improvements.”

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