Research is indicating that the eye may hold vital clues to diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages, potentially years before memory loss and behavioral changes become apparent. The eye can provide insights into a person’s cognitive health, as it acts as a window into the brain, enabling doctors to observe the nervous system directly.

Dr. Richard Isaacson, an Alzheimer’s preventive neurologist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, explains that Alzheimer’s begins in the brain decades before the first symptoms emerge. Early diagnosis could allow individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices and manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

A recent study examined donated retinal and brain tissue from 86 people with varying degrees of mental decline. The study, the largest of its kind, found significant increases in beta-amyloid, a key marker of Alzheimer’s disease, in individuals with early cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, researchers observed a decline in microglial cells responsible for repairing and maintaining other cells.

Markers of inflammation were also discovered, potentially serving as an essential indicator of disease progression. These findings were present in people with minimal or no cognitive symptoms, suggesting that new eye tests may aid in early diagnosis. The development of imaging techniques based on these discoveries could lead to more accurate and noninvasive diagnosis and monitoring of Alzheimer’s progression through the eye.

Source: CNN