Variations in Eye Structure May Help Detect Alzheimer’s in its Early Stages

With more than 26 million Americans currently suffering from Alzheimer’s (that number is expected to quadruple by 2050), early detection is critical in limiting the effects of this disease and optimizing available treatments. New research is showing that variations in eye structure may be able to detect the disease before symptoms arise.


ultra-widefield retinal imaging

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As we’ve shared previously, the accumulation of amyloid beta protein deposits in the eye can help detect the presence of Alzheimer’s. New research being conducted by the investigators at Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute is showing that certain variations in eye structure may aid in early detection. Since optometrists are already a critical part of health teams in the detection of many other systemic diseases, the early detection of Alzheimer’s through eye exams would be a major breakthrough.


Researchers at Cedars-Siani studied postmortem human retinas and animal models and found that changes in the retinal pigment epithelial layer and the thickness of the choroidal layer detected by advanced imaging devices were strongly indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. Considering their findings, they have reason to believe further study may prove to be beneficial, not only in the early detection of Alzheimer’s, but possibly in the development of treatments and drug therapies, which may lead to a slow-down in the progression of the disease. Since Alzheimer’s is one of the top 10 leading causes of death and the only disease for which there are no treatments or cures, this may contribute to a breakthrough for the healthcare industry as a whole.


The American Optometric Association believes that noninvasive gathering of this critical information by optometrists — if proven valid in time with more research — can help your patients better cope with Alzheimer’s and help them plan and make better health decisions for their future.


optomap® ultra-widefield retinal exams can play a key role in helping you detect variations in eye structure that may be indicative of Alzheimer’s. Researchers used such state-of-the-art imaging devices in their studies. Contact us to learn more about how our imaging devices can help you provide your patients with the utmost quality care.