UC Irvine scientists look to eyes to diagnose, treat Alzheimer’s disease

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A new UC Irvine study suggests the eyes might give doctors a clue about whether someone has Alzheimer’s disease.

Usually, Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed by its symptoms. Some doctors are testing brain imaging techniques to improve diagnosis and treatment. But scientists at UC Irvine are looking into eyes to do that.

They studied mice that were genetically altered to get Alzheimer’s, and they found that retinas of mice with Alzheimer’s undergo changes similar to what happens in the brain. The retinas develop the same type of lesions that the brain does in Alzheimer’s patients.

Scientists hope the findings can someday translate to humans, so a doctor could diagnose Alzheimer’s, or judge how well an Alzheimer’s treatment is working, simply by looking in your eyes.

The UCI scientists say retinal imaging could be cheaper, less invasive, and easier to do than brain imaging.

Their study appears in the November issue of The American Journal of Pathology.