A groundbreaking study has revealed that early signs of Alzheimer’s disease could be identified in a person’s eyes. Published in the journal Acta Neuropathological in February, the study conducted over 14 years examined the pathological features of Alzheimer’s in the retinas of 86 volunteers experiencing cognitive decline.
How does it work?
Researchers discovered that changes in the retina were associated with changes in the entorhinal and temporal cortices, which are responsible for memory, navigation, and perception of time in the brain. The study also revealed an 80% decline in microglial cells in those with cognitive issues. These cells are responsible for repairing and maintaining other cells, including clearing beta-amyloid from the brain and retina.
Lead author of the study, Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, said to Cedar-Sinai: “Our study is the first to provide in-depth analyses of the protein profiles and the molecular, cellular, and structural effects of Alzheimer’s disease in the human retina and how they correspond with changes in the brain and cognitive function.”
She says the findings from this study could lead to developing imaging techniques that allow early diagnosis and better monitoring of the disease by examining the eye.
Early detection could help Minimize Risks
Dr. Richard Isaacson, an Alzheimer’s preventive neurologist, said to CNN that Alzheimer’s begins in the brain decades before the first symptoms of memory loss appear. He stated that if the disease can be identified in its earliest stages, people can take steps to prevent it from progressing. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can help people control their risk factors and adopt healthy habits, such as exercise, a healthy diet, and brain-boosting activities.
Alzheimer’s Patients expected to triple by 2050
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and there is currently no cure for the disease. As the population ages, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple by 2050. With early diagnosis and intervention, people with Alzheimer’s can receive treatment and support, improving their quality of life and reducing the burden on caregivers and families. The findings from this study are a significant step towards identifying Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage and providing patients with the care they need.