Mental disorders are visible to the eye

The eye as a window to the brain

To diagnose mental disorders with the unique security, even experienced psychiatrists on the sample. In the case of many psychiatric diseases, the symptoms are varied and overlap with other disorders. So, for example, both of schizophrenia as well as Depression leads to the complete loss of drive. A recent study has now investigated whether a retinal scan can lead to better diagnosis of mental illness.

Eye involvement is in the case of some diseases of the Central nervous system such as Multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have long been known. Researchers from the University hospital in Ulm investigated in a study whether the eyes can also give information about mental illness. To do this, they performed an eye examination with Optical coherence tomography (OCT) in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The results were recently published in the journal “Schizophrenia Research”.

Schizophrenia has many faces

Schizophrenia is a difficult-to-diagnose and complex disorder. The symptoms can range from loss of contact with reality through delusions and hallucinations to disturbances of thought and language. Many Sufferers also report visual problems. The view can be blurred, contrasts and movements are harder to be perceived. The Ulm neurologists and psychiatrists have discovered abnormalities of the retina in the eye of schizophrenia patients.

The window to the brain

The retina (Retina) and the optic nerve develop from the diencephalon. For this reason, the eye is perceived in the medical research is also increasingly used as a “window to the brain”. The research team of the Ulm-based psychiatrist Professor Carlos Schönfeldt-Lecuona, and the neurologist Professor Elmar pink Hardt has tested with an imaging procedure from ophthalmology whether psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia in the eye to demonstrate.

The expiration of the study

The researchers used the so-called optical coherence tomography, a non-invasive and three-dimensional imaging method, with the thickness and volume of the retinal layers. In this method, the Team applied 26 Ulmer patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The Scans were then compared with a healthy control group.

New markers for schizophrenia discovered

“For the first Time, we have conducted in schizophrenia patients and in age-and gender-matched control group solved a high-resolution single-layer analysis of the retina,” says Professor Schönfeldt-Lecuona, in a press release announcing the study results. The results were clear: As the investigation showed, showed schizophrenia sufferers have a greatly reduced thickness and a smaller volume in almost all of the measured retinal layers. The researchers speak of a statistical significance in comparison to healthy individuals. In the case of a long disease duration, the total take volume of the nerve fiber layer continuously.

Schizophrenia affects the network layers of the skin

“Together with the studies showing an MRI brain volume change, deliver our findings, further evidence that schizophrenia is caused by a narrowing of the retinal layers with OCT Scan undetectable,” says Professor pink Hardt the results. The underlying mechanisms of the structural retinal changes but are not yet understood sufficiently.

A network can scan skin diagnosis is used?

“It is quite conceivable that the OCT could help in the future, to identify, for example, the various sub-forms of schizophrenia faster and to make even the therapy of individual,” explain the researchers. To this end, investigations are still necessary. (vb)