Youâ€™ve heard your eyes are the window to your soul, but they can also reveal a great deal about your overall health and the potential to develop serious health conditions later in life. In fact, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine InstituteÂ recently discovered that some abnormalities in the eye may uncover early-stage Alzheimerâ€™s disease.
Alzheimerâ€™s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a loss of memory and decline in mental abilities. This is a progressive disease that causes problems with memory and thinking and can ultimately prevent someone from performing daily tasks. More than 26 million people are affected and that number is expected to quadruple by 2050. There is currently no cure for the disease. Current treatments slow the progression of the disease and improve day-to-day life.
The researchers considered the eye a window into brain function and activity, and the study allowed them to see how changes in the eye can reflect a decrease in brain function. The findings could eventually help doctors to identify early symptoms of Alzheimerâ€™s sooner and provide treatment earlier.
Using high-resolution imaging techniques, animal models and donated human retinas from patients who suffered from Alzheimerâ€™s, researchers were able to study changes in the eye and visual acuity and understand how those changes indicate the presence and development of the disease. The researchers monitored tissue degeneration and the decline in visual function. Both of these indicators are strongly associated with developing Alzheimerâ€™s.
Alexander Ljubimov, PhD, is the director of the Eye Program within the Regenerative Medicine Institute and is co-author of the study. Regarding the study, he stated in a recent Science Daily article: â€śGreater magnitude in these eye abnormalities may mean a greater chance of a patient having Alzheimerâ€™s disease. These findings may be used to study Alzheimerâ€™s disease mechanisms and test potential drugs.â€ť
While more studies are needed to confirm this initial research, it is fascinating to understand how much the eyes can reveal about disease development and the potential for patients to develop debilitating diseases in the future. The full study may be accessed online here.
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