We all know that various parts of our bodies are linked and the health of one body part can determine the health of another.

Now research is showing that our eye health may be an indicator of brain health.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that people with retinopathy — which is a condition where the retina of the eye is damaged as a result of vascular disease — are also at an increased risk for thinking and memory problems. That’s because the vascular disease that causes the retina damage may also be affecting the brain.

According to study researcher Mary Haan, DrPH, MPH, of the University of California, San Francisco:

“Problems with the tiny blood vessels in the eye may be a sign that there are also problems with the blood vessels in the brain that can lead to cognitive problems. This could be very useful if a simple eye screening could give us an early indication that people might be at risk of problems with their brain health and functioning.”

The study tested the memory and thinking skills of 511 women (over age 69) for up to 10 years. They also tested their eye health four years into the study, and scanned their brains eight years into the study. By the end of the study, 39 women had retinopathy — these women, on a whole, scored lower on the cognitive tests compared with the women without retinopathy.

The women with retinopathy also had 47 percent larger volumes of vascular damage in the brain, compared with the women without the eye condition.

This is the only health issue our eyes warn us about, there are several others including cloudy eyes being a sign of diabetes, yellow tints in the whites of the eye being a sign of jaundice and bloodshot eyes being a sign of high blood pressure.

Looks like eyes are more than just the windows to your soul, they’re the windows to your health as well.

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