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Scientists have found that the retina of the eye can determine the severity of schizophrenia


Researchers have discovered that the retinas of people suffering from schizophrenia differ from the retinas of healthy people. These changes can help psychiatrists determine who has the most severe disease. The results of the research were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. From an evolutionary point of view, the retina is a product of the brain and has common genetics. In diseases such as schizophrenia, the retina is a readily available alternative for researchers to study the central nervous system. First author Emmanuel Boudrion of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and his colleagues examined the retinas of healthy patients with schizophrenia and a control group (about 230 people). They recorded layers of the retina using light-based optical coherence tomography (OCT) and measured the electrical signals of individual nerve cells.

"Our results show that in patients with schizophrenia, some layers of the retina were significantly thinner, and the electrophysiological signals were significantly altered," said Florian Raabe, the head of the study. The scientists also managed to show for the first time that the retinal changes are particularly are expressed in more severe patients and those with higher levels of genetic risk factors. This correlation suggests that the retinal changes are caused by the disease itself, and not just by other factors such as smoking, obesity, or diabetes (which tend to be more common in patients with schizophrenia than in the general population). In the future, measuring the state of the retina at the time of diagnosis may help psychiatrists predict which patients are at particular risk and need more careful examination.