Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but according to recent studies reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, they’re also the windows to our health. How so? Research is showing that a retina exam may help detect Alzheimer’s in its early stages.

The brain-eye connection

When it comes to vision and the brain, we have to focus on the retina — the neural portion of they eye’s anatomy that senses light and sends signals to the brain so that visual stimuli can be processed into the perception of fully formed images. The retina is so closely related to the brain that it is regarded as a part of the central nervous system, and some experts regard the retina as an “extension” of the brain.

For a disease known for its adverse impact on the brain, it’s not farfetched that the retina—which is made up of brain tissue and connected to the brain via the optic nerve—could provide insight into whether a person may or may not develop Alzheimer’s. Because this disease is caused by the buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain’s nerve cells, it’s difficult to detect in living brains. For this reason, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has traditionally been based on symptoms. The danger of this approach is that by the time symptoms are severe enough to warrant attention, the disease has already progressed.

The future holds hope for early detection

In the small but significant study that is likely to make positive and radical waves in the medical community, researchers, found changes in the retinas of those who also had biological signs of the disease, while those without Alzheimer’s markers had normal retinas.

Considering that this study only commenced the animal-based phase of testing in 2016, the research has rapidly progressed and human testing is now underway. If the currrent research trends and findings are any indication, we can look forward to a future of fast, early detection, and thus early treatment.  

As New Jersey’s most reputable vision health providers, Eyecare 20/20 not only offers the latest diagnostic technology, but also a warm, friendly environment for all your eye care needs. Whether you’re seeking eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions, LASIK vision correction, cataract surgery, dry eye treatment, or eye care of any kind, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today and together we’ll ensure your future looks clear.

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