When we talk about wellness, mental health is as important a part of the conversation as physical health. We are delighted that Sunnybrook has launched a groundbreaking study focusing on the relationship between bipolar disorders and vascular health reflected in the eyes.
Viewed as “a close relative of the blood vessels in the brain”, the blood vessels of the retina can show us much about the central nervous system. This research may reveal that blood vessel problems are a core cause of bipolar disorder. Key specialists participating in the study include a youth psychiatrist, ophthalmologist, neurologist and neurosurgeon.
A special camera is used to photograph the retina, revealing the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye. The objective is to see if atypical blood flow is connected not only with the early risk of heart disease, but also to evaluate the impact on mental capacity such as cognition or mood.
Furthermore, researchers are looking at the effect of inflammation, exercise, diet and medications on blood vessels in the eyes. While retinal photography has been used extensively in the study of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, this new research is pioneering the application of using this technology in studying bipolar disorder in youth.
The technique used to capture high resolution 3D images of the retina and its layers is called optical coherence tomography (OCT). This technology has opened the team’s understanding of vascular health in the retina and brain. Findings to date suggest a direct connect between healthy blood vessels in the body and healthy blood vessels in the eyes while those participants with high blood pressure had poorer retinal blood-vessel health. The hope is that this research will enable a pro-active approach to diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder.
To read more about this fascinating study, click here https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/advsunnybrook/what-do-the-eyes-tell-us-about-mental-health/article34697128/