Alzheimer's Lesions Found in the Retina
The researchers said they found retinas in mice genetically altered to have Alzheimer's undergo changes similar to those that occur in the brain -- most notably the accumulation of amyloid plaque lesions. In addition, the scientists said they found when Alzheimer's therapies are tested in such mice, retinal changes that result might predict how the treatments will work.
Although brain imaging technology is being tested in diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's disease victims, the scientists said retinal imaging could be less invasive, less expensive and easier to perform.
"It's important to discover the pathological changes before an Alzheimer's patient dies," said neuroscientist Zhiqun Tan, who led the study. "Brain tissue isn't transparent, but retinas are. I hope in the future we'll be able to diagnose the disease and track its progress by looking into the eyes."
The research that included scientists at the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center in China is reported in the November issue of The American Journal of Pathology.