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Subspecialties Retina, Basic & Translational Research

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Chronic cerebral hypoperfusion (CCH) can be caused by several conditions that affect the cerebral vascular system, including diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis – but lifestyle choices, such as smoking, also play a role. With CCH now recognized as a key contributor to the neurodegenerative processes that can lead to dementia (1), attention has turned to early diagnosis and prediction. And a new study (2) has proposed that retinal imaging – or, more precisely, exploring the retinal microvasculature using two-photon microscopy – shows potential in predicting the risk of brain diseases involving reduced blood flow.

Two-photon microscopy is a fluorescence-based technique that can be used to measure living tissue with approximately one millimeter thickness. The novel imaging technique - innovative in that it requires no adaptive optics – allows researchers to investigate retinal blood flow at the microscopic level. Because the retina is located in the peripheral part of the central nervous system – sharing similarities with cerebral brain matter but with a simpler structure and fewer nerve cell types – it makes it an excellent target for providing more accurate insights into the microvasculature of the brain. The study findings suggest this new technique has the potential to be applied to a wide variety of retinal research, and serve as a promising predictor for CCH, as well as acting as an early diagnostic biomarker for other cerebrovascular diseases.

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  1. J Duncombe et al., “Chronic cerebral hypoperfusion: a key mechanism leading to vascular cognitive impairment and dementia. Closing the translational gap between rodent models and human vascular cognitive impairment and dementia,” Clinical Science, 131, 2451 (2017). PMID: 28963120.
  2. L Baoqiang et al., “Differential reductions in the capillary red-blood-cell flux between retina and brain under chronic global hypoperfusion,” Neurophotonics, [Online ahead of print] (2023). PMID: 37323511.
About the Author
Alun Evans

Coming from a creative writing background, I have a great interest in fusing original, narrative-driven concepts with informative, educational content. Working at The Ophthalmologist allows me to connect with the great minds working in the field of contemporary eye care, and explore the human element involved in their scientific breakthroughs.

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