Could Retinal Imaging Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease Earlier?
The nerve cell-damaging plaque that builds up in the brain with Alzheimer’s disease also builds up in the retinas of the eyes—and it shows up there earlier. This hallmark discovery could lead to earlier diagnosis, intervention, and monitoring of the disease, according to new research conducted by a team of scientists in Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Neurosurgery in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the University of Southern California.
Scientists discovered characteristic amyloid plaques in the retinas of deceased Alzheimer’s disease patients and used a noninvasive optical imaging technique to detect retinal plaques in live laboratory mice genetically modified to model the human disease. The combined results suggest the possibility that noninvasive retinal imaging may be helpful in early definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and monitoring disease progression in response to treatment.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition that is becoming more prevalent worldwide as the baby-boom generation advances into its senior years, but there is no conclusive, noninvasive way to diagnose it in patients, especially at early stages of the disease. Previous studies have suggested that changes in the brain may begin years or even decades before symptoms occur— emphasizing the need for Could Retinal Imaging Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease Earlier? earlier, reliable detection for early therapeutic intervention to achieve effective remedy. The new study suggests the possibility of monitoring Alzheimer’s disease through a simple retinal imaging approach.