Eyes May Be ‘Windows To The Brain’ In Stroke Patients, NIH Research Shows

by NCN Health And Science Team Last updated on August 6th, 2018,

Bethesda, Maryland, USA: A team of researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found, in a new study, that a chemical called gadolinium given to stroke patients during brain scans can leak into their eyes. The gadolinium causes certain parts of the eyes to light up on these scans.

Gadolinium is a harmless chemical given to patients during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to highlight damage in the brain.

In healthy people, gadolinium remains in our bloodstream and is removed by our kidneys. But when someone has brain damage, it leaks into their brain, creating bright spots.

Our eyes can tell us a lot about our health. They can help health care providers diagnose things like diabetes, genetic disorders, and cancer. Our eyes may also help give insight into stroke, according to results of the research.

In the future, health care providers could give a similar substance to patients that would collect in their eyes and quickly tell them important information about their stroke without the need for an MRI, the NIH researchers say.

What research is being done?

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)  researchers are studying the mechanisms of stroke risk factors and the process of brain damage that results from stroke. Basic research has also focused on the genetics of stroke and stroke risk factors. Scientists are working to develop new and better ways to help the brain repair itself to restore important functions. New advances in imaging and rehabilitation have shown that the brain can compensate for function lost as a result of stroke.

A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to your brain stops. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. There are two kinds of stroke. The more common kind, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. The other kind, called hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. “Mini-strokes” or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), occur when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted.

Symptoms of stroke

Symptoms of stroke are;

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you have any of these symptoms, you must get to a hospital quickly to begin treatment. Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot or by stopping the bleeding. Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Drug therapy with blood thinners is the most common treatment for stroke.

Stroke Rehabilitation

A stroke can cause lasting brain damage. People who survive a stroke need to relearn skills they lost because of the damage. Rehabilitation can help them relearn those skills.

The effects of a stroke depend on which area of the brain was damaged. The types of disabilities a stroke can cause include

Paralysis or problems controlling movement
Pain and other problems with the senses
Problems using or understanding language
Problems with thinking and memory
Emotional disturbances
Stroke rehabilitation involves many kinds of health professionals. The goal is to help stroke survivors become as independent as possible and to have the best possible quality of life.

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