The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but new research indicates they also may mirror a brain ravaged by Alzheimer's disease.
UC Irvine neuroscientists have found that retinas in mice genetically altered to have Alzheimer's undergo changes similar to those that occur in the brain -- most notably the accumulation of amyloid plaque lesions.
In addition, the scientists discovered that when Alzheimer's therapies are tested in such mice, retinal changes that result might predict how the treatments will work in humans better than changes in mouse brain tissue.
These findings are key to developing retinal imaging technology that may help diagnose and treat people with Alzheimer's, which afflicts 5.3 million people in the US and is the leading cause of elderly dementia. Brain imaging techniques are being tested, but retinal imaging could be less invasive, less expensive and easier to perform.