New Study Suggests Eyes may Show Signs of Atrial Fibrillation

We’ve shared before that eyes can provide practitioners with signs and symptoms of a variety of systemic issues, such as chronic myelogenous leukemia and hypertension. Early last fall, researchers shared that a possible clue to detecting Alzheimer’s disease may be found through eye exams, and now, a new study reports that damaged blood vessels in the eyes could help doctors diagnose a heart-rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation.


retinal exams

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According to U.S. News Health, the study led by Sunil Agarwal of Johns Hopkins University followed over 10,000 middle-aged patients for about 14 years. The results of the study “found that microvascular changes – trouble in the smaller vessels of the eyes or kidneys – appeared to be linked to the presence of atrial fibrillation.”


About six of every 1,000 people monitored during the study with no microvascular disease did develop atrial fibrillation, increasing to nine out of every 1,000 people that had micro-bleeds or micro-aneurysms in the small vessels of their retinas. Those with vessel damage present in their kidneys accounted for 17 out of every 1,000 people followed in the study, increasing to 24 out of every 1,000 with damage to the vessels of the kidneys and eyes.


Researchers participating in the study suggest that patients with damage to the vessels of their eyes and kidneys should undergo close monitoring to “gauge their risk for undetected atrial fibrillation.”


A routine eye exam can help practitioners detect damage to the vessels of eyes long before other symptoms of systemic issues are present, especially when an optomap® test is a part of the exam. Our proprietary ultra-widefield retinal imaging technology provides a 200° view that allows you to effectively detect vision and systemic issues, monitor them and promote the health of your patients’ eyes and the rest of their bodies. Visit our website today to learn more.