Eye cells may help diagnose Alzheimer's
New research presented at the U.S. Society for Neuroscience conference found that genetically-engineered mice with Alzheimer’s disease lost thickness in the layer of eye cells in the retina.
Because the retina is a direct extension of the brain, researchers say the loss of retinal neurons could be related to the loss of brain cells as a result of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Scott Turner of Georgetown University and his colleagues looked at the thickness of the retina in an area that had not previously been investigated. This included the inner nuclear layer and the retinal ganglion cell layer. They found that a loss of thickness occurred only in mice with Alzheimer's. The retinal ganglion cell layer had almost halved in size and the inner nuclear layer had decreased by more than a third.
The team hopes this research will translate to human patients, and that perhaps this work could one day lead to opticians being able to detect Alzheimer's in a regular eye check, as well help to detect glaucoma, another neurodegenerative disease.