Study explores link between schizophrenia and congenital and cortical blindness

Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental health disorder, the occurrence of which is linked to genetics, brain chemistry, and environment. However, a recent study examined if it was also associated with physical handicaps, such as blindness. The study carried out at the University of Western Australia discovered that none of the persons with a diagnosis of early cortical blindness or congenital blindness developed schizophrenia.

Lead author Professor Vera Morgan revealed that her team also discovered that none of the people with congenital blindness struggled with any other psychotic illnesses. Morgan said that this association made sense and it was important to explore the link between the two. She further added that till now, the link between the two had not been understood, however, brain plasticity could play a role. The study investigated data of almost 500,000 people, collected from the health registers of Western Australia between 1980 and 2001.

Compensatory cortical reorganization and neuroplasticity

Morgan added that it was challenging to figure out the exact mechanism yet, but she and her team believed that schizophrenia had some protective effect associated with compensatory cortical reorganization in the brain that happened as a result of congenital blindness. This led the researches to the conclusion that some functions that might be dysregulated in schizophrenia might actually be enhanced in people with congenital or early cortical blindness.

Even though the researchers have not yet found an explanation behind the protective effect, according to Morgan, it seems to be linked with neuroplasticity which is a feature of congenital or an early onset of blindness. She further added that the neuroplasticity was seen only in cortical blindness that stemmed in the occipital cortex region of the brain and not in peripheral blindness originating from the globe of the eye itself.

Novel treatment approach

Experts feel that these findings may be helpful in exploring better treatment options for mental illnesses. If researchers are able to recognize and recreate this protective effect, it may be possible to have timely intervention to prevent or minimize the symptoms leading to schizophrenia.

Morgan stated that in the coming days, it would be useful to repeat the study using a larger database. Besides, researchers also need to carry out clinical and related studies to comprehend the exact mechanisms behind the protective effect. The study was published in the journal British Psychological Society Digest Report.

Seeking help for schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious and incapacitating mental health disorder affecting the way an individual feels, thinks, and behaves. It might manifest as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and thinking, abnormal motor behavior, and an overall lack of ability to function properly. A person struggling with schizophrenia might think that they have lost touch with reality. If left untreated, it can lead to several complications like:

  • Suicide ideation and attempts
  • Suicide
  • Self-injury
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Homelessness
  • Social isolation
  • Being victimized
  • Medical problems
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Absence form work or school
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Abuse of alcohol and other substances

However, with medications, therapy, self-care, and support groups, schizophrenia can be managed and one can live a productive life. One can have a family, a job, and a social standing in the society. Therefore, it is indispensable to speak to a licensed healthcare professional if the symptoms persist for long.

If you or a loved one are looking for a credible schizophrenia treatment center, then get in touch with the Medical Concierge of California. Our medical experts can offer you the requisite assistance and support and help you overcome the disorder. Call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline (877) 636-0042 or chat online with our representative for more information about our schizophrenia treatment programs.

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