Retinas of Eyes May Be an Indicator of Alzheimer’s Disease Risk: Study

Female eye with permanent eyelid makeup. Research of the organ of vision conceptAccording to a new nationwide study, the eyes of older adults may provide a possible indication of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaques found in the eyes’ retinas may be an indicator of similar plaques in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are hoping this can provide a more visible biomarker for detecting the disease risk.

Amyloid plaques are misfolded protein deposits that form between brain cells, which can cause abnormal function, eventually leading to neuronal death. They are known as a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and are the focus of many investigations designed to help reduce or prevent their formation.

The Formation of Amyloid Plaques


Recent discoveries have found that amyloid plaques not only form in the brain, but can also accumulate in the retina of the eye in patients clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe this may suggest similar pathologies in both organs.

A small study led by scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine sought to find neurodegeneration risk in people with low levels of amyloid and compare them to people with high retinal and brain amyloids.

By looking at the retina of the eyes, researchers found that the presence of retinal spots in the eyes correlated with brain scans that showed higher levels of cerebral amyloid plaques. Researchers believe that these findings suggest that non-invasive retinal imaging may be helpful in detecting early-stage Alzheimer’s disease risk.

“This was a small initial dataset from the screening visit. It involved eight patients,” said senior author Robert Rissman. But, these findings are encouraging because they suggest it may be possible to determine the onset, spread and morphology of AD — a preclinical diagnosis — using retinal imaging rather than more difficult and costly brain scans.

We look forward to seeing the results of additional timepoint retinal scans and the impact of solanezumab (a monoclonal antibody) on retinal imaging. Unfortunately, we will need to wait to see and analyze these data when the A4 trial is completed.”

This study is only the beginning of the research into the significance of amyloid plaques in the retinas of the eyes. Rissman and his team believe that the next step will be to conduct a more extensive study to better document the relationships between retinal amyloid and cerebral amyloid over a more extended period.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.


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