One of the most interesting things in medical science right now is the link between our eyes and our mind. The truth is that we know relatively little about the way that the two intertwine and combine, and unlocking those answers could mean big things for healthcare and ophthalmology.
A research team in Mannheim, Germany are taking great strides towards those answers, after producing a study which identifies a link between clear vision and cognitive activity.
Clear vision, clear mind
Short of not being able to see the blackboard properly in school, it seems unlikely that blurry vision can impede mental activity, but a study of elderly Chinese suggests quite the opposite.
The research was carried out on 3,127 individuals, each of whom received full eye and health examinations before their level of cognitive activity was calculated. The results were quite staggering; after taking a host of influential factors into account – such as age, gender, occupation and level of education – there was a strong link between significantly reduced cognitive function and a lack of correction for deteriorating eyesight.
What does this mean?
Cognitive function is defined as the ability to perceive, understand and retain ideas. A significantly lower level of activity here can cause havoc on the ability to make good, firm decisions and live an independent lifestyle – things which may already be impeded to some degree in the elderly due to disability or disease.
Having a proven, documented link between eyesight and mental health helps to give us a considerably clearer insight into how exactly the brain functions and importantly, what we can do to aid it and stop it degrading.
The case for receiving regular eye tests and wearing glasses whenever necessary is also strengthened hugely; eye health is commonly dismissed under the assumption that we will simply be able to purchase a strong prescription to wear when we finally have to concede to the need for glasses, but this study highlights damage to the mind which may be irreversible – something which should certainly encourage those of us neglecting our eye health to keep on top of it in future.
Perhaps even more importantly than that, the need for improved ophthalmic care in developing countries is emphasized – in a world where improving education is given such a high priority any link to cognitive function is bound to be given a significant amount of attention.
A full report of the study has been published in Acta Ophthalmologica, and it’s definitely worth a read for those who are interested.