October 1, 2023
Brain Health

You can Find Your Brain Health on your eyes

Brain Health: Most people are familiar with the eyes being attributed as “the windows to your soul.” It turns out that your eyes are also windows into some of your cognitive processes and your brain health. Research that my colleagues and I conducted at the Stanford VA Aviation Safety Lab and the Naval Postgraduate School indicates that our eye movements can tell us a lot about underlying cognitive strategies, especially for tasks like driving or flying a plane. We were able to distinguish novice and expert pilots simply based on their visual scan patterns while they “flew” in a flight simulator. 


Experts look where they need to look at exactly the moment when they need to make a decision. Visual scan patterns of novices are messy, indicating that they often don’t know what visual cues to use to help make decisions. We also were able to determine the strategies pilots used in confirming their current location and what features of the runway pilots relied on to decide whether or not to land a plane under foggy conditions.


Eye movements were measured while participants performed complex, real-world tasks. However, even basic eye movements, such as following a dot across a screen, can inform us of the current status of our brain health. Dorion Liston, a vision scientist and the CEO of neuroFit, explains that “the ability to process and perceive visual motion can be read out in your eye movements. On the one hand, the brain circuits that process motion are subject to disruption due to neuropathological conditions, such as traumatic brain injury or mild cognitive impairment. 


On the more positive side, eye movements also can inform when brain circuits are working well. Similar to a muscle, the brain circuitry can strengthen over time. We also were able to determine the strategies pilots used in confirming their current location and what features of the runway pilots relied on to decide whether or not to land a plane under foggy conditions.

Brain Health

Vision loss is associated with cognitive impairment

One study concluded that poor vision may have led to up to 100,000 cases of dementia in the United States. Varshini Varadaraj, a research associate at John Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, and her colleagues recently conducted a seven-year longitudinal study that found “worse vision (measured in three different ways) was associated with more rapid cognitive decline. 


Specifically, worse visual acuity and depth perception impairment were associated with greater declines in language and memory, whereas worse contrast sensitivity was associated with declines in language, memory, attention, and visuospatial ability. These findings suggest that patterns of cognitive decline in older adults may differ by the type of vision loss they may experience, with impaired contrast sensitivity being associated with a wider range of cognitive decrement.


Why visual impairment is associated with cognitive decline

There are several possible reasons why visual impairment is associated with cognitive decline. “The ‘common cause pathway’ or having a shared pathology underlying both vision and cognitive impairments,” such as nerve or vascular disease, is a possibility. Alternatively, the “sensory loss consequence pathway,” where vision loss may be associated with cognitive decline through conditions known to affect cognition, such as depression, social isolation, decreased engagement in cognitively stimulating activities, and increased cognitive load due to the greater dedication of cognitive resources to visual processing, may be another. “In truth, a combination of these mechanisms likely contributes to the greater cognitive decline noted in older adults with vision loss.


Tips that help your eyes and your brain to keep health

Maintain a balanced diet:

Consuming a range of fruits, vegetables, entire grains, and lean proteins helps each intelligence and eye health. Incorporating meals prosperous in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish (salmon, tuna), walnuts, and flaxseed, can be beneficial.


Stay hydrated:

Keeping your physique and talent appropriately hydrated is crucial. Make certain to drink a sufficient quantity of water at some stage in the day, as dehydration can negatively influence cognitive features and eye health.


Protect your eyes from UV rays:

Safeguard your eyes with the aid of sporting sun shades that furnish one hundred percent UVA and UVB protection when uncovered to sunlight. Extended publicity to UV rays can enlarge the hazard of eye conditions, such as cataracts.


Take normal breaks from screens:

If you spend extended durations working on a laptop or the use of digital devices, observe the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second wreck and centre of attention on an object at least 20 ft away. This exercise helps minimise eye stress and fatigue.


Maintain desirable posture:

Practise accurate posture whilst working or the usage of digital devices. Sit at an at ease distance from the display and make sure that the display is at eye level. Poor posture can lead to eye strain, headaches, and neck discomfort.


Engage in normal exercise:

Physical recreation promotes wholesome blood circulation, benefiting each the intelligence and eyes. Regular workout can minimise the chance of age-related eye prerequisites and cognitive decline.


Priorities adequate sleep:

A correct night’s sleep is quintessential for most suitable intelligence and eye health. Strive for 7-8 hours of fine sleep every night. Inadequate sleep can make contributions to eye fatigue, problem concentrating, and reminiscence problems.


Protect your head:

When collaborating in things to do that elevate a chance of head injury, such as sports activities or sure occupations, make use of splendid defensive gear. Head accidents can have implications for each Genius and eyesight.


Challenge your brain:

Engage in mentally stimulating things to do like puzzles, reading, getting to know new skills, or enjoying musical instruments. Mental stimulation helps preserve the talent sharp and can also decrease the hazard of cognitive decline.


Schedule ordinary eye exams:

Arrange periodic eye assessments with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. These assessments can become aware of early symptoms of eye prerequisites or diseases, allowing for well-timed remedy and upkeep of vision.


Remember, these guidelines promote general health, positively influencing each intelligence and eye health. For personalized recommendation or if you have precise worries or conditions, it is usually fine to seek advice from a healthcare professional. 


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