An enormous amount of information regarding a patient’s health can be obtained through an eye exam, most commonly are chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. More recently it has been studied that Alzheimer’s disease could be another condition assessed through changes within the eye.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition in which neurons (brain nerve cells) progressively degenerate causing memory loss and dementia. This condition affects more than 5 million Americans and is generally seen in patients over 65. Furthermore, early detection of this condition allows for improved management and as a result more promising outcomes. Additionally, the individual patient suffering from Alzheimer’s as well as family members are more aware of the coming changes. Moreover, with better preparation families are able develop a plan and doctors are capable of intervening before extensive damage is done.
As your eye doctors we are responsible for evaluating the retina, which is the nerve layer that lines the back of the eye (Collects and senses light which is eventually sent to the brain). After imaging retinal tissue of animal models and postmortem human with Alzheimer’s, Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute researchers discovered tissue degeneration and a decrease in visual function. Abnormal findings were located in the pigment epithelial layer of the retina and the choroid, which is the layer responsible for providing nutrients to the retina. A number of different imaging techniques as well as visual acuity measurements (Measuring the smallest letter a patient can read) can all be utilized when evaluating patients.
With continued research an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s through eye evaluations may perhaps help improve the life of these patients with early disease intervention. So getting your eyes checked can lead to discovering a lot more than just the need for glasses or contacts!
Sources aoa.org, www.alzfdn.org