Every three seconds, someone develops dementia.

Catching the disease early is key. You can be prepared and maybe slow down its decline.

Now, researchers say they may one day be able to predict the disease by looking at your eyes!

“A lot of people often refer to the eye as the window to the body, and what it really is, is that the eye is the window to the brain,” said Cecelia Lee, MD, MS, ophthalmologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

After studying data on more than 3,900 participants, Dr. Lee and her colleagues found that people with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration had about a 40% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

“All of those three conditions affect a different part of the retina which is connected to the brain,” said Dr. Lee.

Another recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that people with untreated visual impairments were significantly more likely to develop dementia.

And other research has suggested a link between hearing loss and dementia risk. In a new study published in the Lancet, researchers found giving older people hearing aids could cut the risk of cognitive decline in half.

While more research is needed to learn exactly how seeing and hearing are linked to dementia, experts say keeping your eyes and your ears healthy may also benefit your brain.