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Research to Prevent Blindness

Could An Eye Exam Reveal Alzheimer’s Disease?

According to a news report from Duke Eye Center, a study of more than 200 people (reported in the journal Ophthalmology Retinasuggests that loss of blood vessels in the retina could signal Alzheimer’s disease. The research was supported in part by an RPB unrestricted grant to the Duke University Department of Ophthalmology.

In people with healthy brains, microscopic blood vessels form a dense web at the back of the eye inside the retina, as seen in 133 participants in a control group.

In the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer’s disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places. The differences in density were statistically significant after researchers controlled for factors including age, sex, and level of education, said Duke ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon Sharon Fekrat, MD, the study’s senior author.

“We’re measuring blood vessels that can’t be seen during a regular eye exam and we’re doing that with relatively new noninvasive technology that takes high-resolution images of very small blood vessels within the retina in just a few minutes,” she said. “It’s possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what’s going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition.” 

Read the full news item from Duke Eye Center here

Related News: Feature Story, For the Media, Neuro-Ophthalmology, Retina Disorders , Top Story

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