Fatal disease can be detected by simply looking at the eyes

Our eyes are exposed to great stress every day. Image: marinafrost

The eyes can indicate a fatal brain disease

A recent study of a particularly deadly brain disease now found that doctors may be able to identify a condition just by looking at a person's eyes. They also found that an infected individual's eyes can even act as a vector for the spread of the disease.

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In their latest study, the University of California researchers found that there is a possibility of diagnosing a fatal disease just by looking at someone's eyes. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language specialist journal "mBio".

Our eyes can point to a fatal disease and may even be involved in the spread of the disease. (Image: marinafrost / fotolia.com)

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is fatal

Despite our modern medicine, there is no cure or effective treatment for the so-called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) today. The disease occurs only rarely, but unfortunately ends in death for everyone affected, explain the experts. An infected individual's eyes can act as a vector for the spread of the disease, and it is possible to identify a disease by simply looking at the eyes, say medical professionals.

Eating squirrels infects man with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

A few months ago, a medical journal reported a case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease associated with eating squirrels. CJD is a rare disease that causes certain proteins in the brain to fold incorrectly. This deposit of atypical protein fragments is called prions. They cause lesions in the brain and a spongy destruction of brain tissue. In this particular case, it was believed that the patient's disease was the result of eating squirrel meat that had come into contact with the animal's brain matter.

Can Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease be transmitted through the eyes?

Other cases have shown that consuming brain matter can spread the disease, but the new research suggests that an infected person's eyes also carry prions in them. This is especially a cause of concern for those in the eye care field. Doctors who perform eye surgery can spread prions if medical equipment is contaminated and goes unnoticed. The eyes of a total of eleven patients who died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were examined for prions. According to the doctors, the amount of prions found was quite high. Most of what are known as prion seeds have been found in the retina of each eye, but prions have also been discovered in many other parts of the eye, such as the lens, optic nerve, and even the muscles around it.

Prions can also be transmitted through our tears?

In the future, the researchers hope to be able to examine the tears of patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob more closely. They want to determine whether there are also prions in the fluid drainage from the eyes, which could also lead to the spread of the disease. (as)

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