The retina is a direct extension of the brain. Early research has discovered that mice genetically engineered to have a version of Alzheimer’s Disease show a corresponding loss thickness in a layer of specific cells in the retina, and this could – in future – help to diagnose and track the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease in human.
“…a loss of thickness occurred only in mice with Alzheimer’s. The retinal ganglion cell layer had almost halved in size and the inner nuclear layer had decreased by more than a third. This suggests a new path forward in understanding the disease process in humans and could lead to new ways to diagnose or predict Alzheimer’s”.
A lot more research may be required before the loss of retinal neurons can be directly and unambiguously related to progress in the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. The general avenue of research into examination of the retina for diagnostic purposes is not entirely new.
Hogenboom, M. (2013). Eye cells could help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. London: BBC Health News, November 13th 2013.
This relates to:
Can the Eyes Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease? Georgetown [USA]: Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), November 13th 2013.