eye examination test

I can tell your IQ by looking in your eyes

A study published in the May 15, 2013 journal Psychological Science reports an association between retinal vessel size and IQ.  Now considering I look at retinal blood vessels all day long, this article intrigued me.  The study looked at over 1000 individuals and found that after accounting for all sorts of extenuating circumstances, those with larger retinal vessel size had lower IQ’s and those with smaller retinal vessel sizes had higher IQ’s.

Armed with my new found knowledge, all I need are 2 retinas to compare.  So I chose mine of course and who else?   My wife of course, Dr. Friesen.


My retina is on the left and her’s is on the right.  And I proceed to measure and average the retinal vessel size, just like investigators did in their study….one eye averaged to be 7.85 pixel vessel size, the other 6.5.

So who had the larger vessel size?

I think you already know.

Michael Nelson, Optometrist, Waverley Eye Care

Retinal Transplant for Macular Degeneration


Almost everyday I have someone ask me if it possible to do a retinal transplant for people who suffer from vision loss due to macular degeneration. The answer has always been “not yet”. A recent post by Review of Optometry doesn’t change this answer, but it does offer some hope.

There are two glimpses of hope from this post. One is that a research team has discovered that they may be able to turn epithelial cells into stem cells. While most cells are programmed to grow into only a certain type if cell (skin, hair, teeth, muscle,etc) stem cells are a wild-card type of cell in our body that can develop into any tissue. This study is that this team has learned how to take skin cells and convert them into stem cells.

The second, and most exciting, part of this study is a leaked report from a research group which is currently carrying out studies on growing new retinas from stem cells in patients with macular degeneration. It reports that one patient had vision improve from 20/400 to 20/40. That is amazing because it changes a persons vision from being legally blind to being able to drive a car. So is it possible to do retinal transplants? The answer is yes, but it still may be years before this treatment is an option for patients.

Michael Nelson, Optometrist, Waverley Eye Care, Winnipeg

Central Retinal Vein Occulsion


A retinal vein occlusion is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina.  It results in dramatic hemorrhages (as seen in this patients right eye above) , retinal swelling and profound vision loss.  There is often no treatment available and so it is important to reduce risk factors that could your increase your chances of developing a vein occlusion.  Prevention involves eating a low-fat diet, regular exercise, maintaining an ideal weight, not smoking and controlling diabeties.

Below is a photo of this patient’s normal left eye.

Michael D. Nelson, Optometrist


Visors in Hockey

Recent close call eye injuries to the Jets’ Andrew Ladd and Flyers’ Chris Pronger have brought the issue of eye protection in the NHL back into view. Vancouver Canucks player Manny Malhotra suffered an almost career ending eye injury which he has had continued surgery in the summer of 2011. NHL reports about 60% of players wear visors. While the debate rages on as to whether NHL players should wear visors, it should be a no brainer that rec-hockey players should wear one, but I am still amazed by they number that don’t.

NHL eye injury photo gallery

The age old argument that visors hinder one’s ability to perform on the ice is becoming harder to defend, considering 9 of the top 10 NHL scorers in 2011 wear a visor: Sedin, Perry, Stamkos, Iginla, Ovechkin, Selanne, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Richards all wear them. So does Crosby, Skinner, Lidstrom and Kesler. Hard to argue with success, so I vote to put on a visor.

Michael Nelson, OD FAAO

Choroidal Nevus

Choroidal nevi are commonly found in the choroid, a blood vessel-rich layer lying between the retina and the sclera. Although they are not necessarily a “normal” finding in our eyes, they are quite common and may not represent anything wrong with the eye. Choroidal nevi are present in about 6% of eyes. Nevi vary from patient to patient but most look very similar and have certain traits that eye doctors are very familiar with. Choroidal nevi are not usually harmful. However, just like a freckle on your skin, it should be monitored for changes in color, size or shape. Typical treatment involves taking a digital photograph for documentation.



A choroidal nevus is the name given to a spot, freckle or mole that appears inside the eye.

Choriodal nevi are benign, however, we want to watch closely for the rare development of a choroidal melanoma, a tumor found in the eye. It is estimated that about 1 in 8000 of choroidaI nevi will transform into melanomas. Choroidal melanomas are malignant tumors and due to their aggresive nature that can sometimes result in death, they must be treated early.

More information is available at: The Eye Cancer Network

Michael D. Nelson