There is an old expression that says “The eyes are the window to the soul.” Now it seems the eyes may also be the window of Alzheimer’s disease.” – M. Wolken CMA 2011.
The blood vessels of the eye may be the mirror to show if someone is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). New research indicates that the disease has been reported to affect the eye and the brain tissues.
Will this become the much needed early detection diagnostic tool in preventing or modifying the destruction caused by this condition?
Using the eyes as a window to brain activity is much more accessible for imaging than the brain, according to Shaun Frost, MSc, a PhD candidate at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Australian e-Health Research Center, in Perth, Australia.
Retinal Photographs -the retinal vascular changes as a biomarker for AD.
There is a relationship between those parameters or biomarkers and the build up of neocortical plaque as early sign of AD.
“Today, there is no single method for detecting Alzheimer’s until the disease is well advanced,” he said. Current positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging scans can detect some brain changes, but can be expensive and technically challenging, so are impractical for testing in large populations.
In the research, retinal photographs were collected and analyzed using semiautomated software to examine a variety of parameters, including the width of retinal vessels. The researchers calculated the central retinal arterial and venular equivalent thickness and arteriolar-venular ratio (AVR) for each participant. All had amyloid plaque burden measured using PET Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) imaging as part of the AIBL study protocol.
They found the AVR was higher in patients with AD (P = .001) and that veins were thinner (P =.01). “Now that we’ve separated the healthy controls into those who test positive and those who test negative for elevated plaque burden, you see a difference in the retina between those groups,” Mr. Frost explained. “The latter patients are considered to have preclinical AD…These findings indicate a relationship between Alzheimer’s disease, changes in the retina, and plaque burden in the brain…”
Research is looking at other changes in the eye that might relate to AD, including supranuclear cataracts and other molecular changes.
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