We now learn that eyes can also help doctors diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from the University of California San Diego Medical School claim, that the same amyloid plaques that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, they also accumulate in the retina of the eye.
Amyloid plaques are protein deposits that inhibit and reduce the function of brain cells.. This disorder is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's, of the most common form of dementia. Reversing and preventing this problem is one of the main goals of dementia research.
Alzheimer's: What scientists have found in the eyes of patients with dementia
With scientists finding that these plaques also appear in the eye, UC-San Diego team compares retinal and cerebral amyloid tests in patients from nationwide dementia study, as well as from another study evaluating the risk of amyloid and neurodegeneration over time. The latter assesses the risk of neurodegeneration in people with low levels of amyloid proteins.
The results reveal a link between the presence of retinal spots in the eyes and brain scans showing high levels of amyloid proteins..
These findings also suggest that non-invasive retinal imaging may offer physicians a new way of detecting the early stages of Alzheimer's.
"It simply came to our notice then. Eight patients participated ", notes the lead author of the research, dr. Robert Rissman, Professor of Neuroscience at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
"But these findings are encouraging because they suggest that it may be possible to determine the onset, the spread and morphology of Alzheimer's. That is, a preclinical diagnosis, using retina illustration, instead of more difficult and expensive brain scans«, he added.
The findings appear in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.