Are the Eyes Important in Finding Early Alzheimer’s Disease?

arztsamui fdpAlzheimer’s Disease is a terrible malady of the mind that affects the brain, memory, thinking and behavior. Statistics show that more than five million Americans have it, including thousands here in  Raleigh,  Durham, and across the Triangle.

But new studies show the eyes may be a fundamentally important in detecting Alzheimer’s early, before it has a chance to grow.

The problem, according to experts, is that people with Alzheimer’s build up more proteins in the brain than is normally acceptable. The protein is called Beta-Amyloid. It is interesting to note that the retina in the back of the eye is formed from the same material that makes up the brain. And researchers have recently discovered that the amount of beta-amyloid protein is similar in both the brain and the retina.

Now, researchers are testing people’s retinas for these proteins to see if they can identify people who are starting to develop Alzheimer’s.

Researchers are also studying the eyes for other links including:

  • Checking for the beta-amyloid protein in the eye’s lens.
  • Examining changes in eye blood vessel infrastructure in people with Alzheimer’s.
  • Tracking the number of eye flickers, known as saccadic movements, which slow down in people with cognitive problems.

Researchers are trying to catch Alzheimer’s early through testing, but meanwhile, family members can help by looking for these 10 warning signs from the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Memory changes that disrupt daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

The testing of the human eye for signs of Alzheimer’s, may someday be normal aspect of a routine eye exam. Unfortunately, even with that knowledge, there is not yet a way to slow down or cure the disease.

However, many other eye and other health problems can be caught early through regular eye exams — including many in which early treatment can make a difference, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration.

It’s just one more reason Beth R. Friedland M.D. urges all Park Ophthalmology patients to schedule an annual eye exam as the principal aspect of their overall health.

Diseases are often more than meets the eye.


Park Ophthalmology welcomes patients from all areas of the Triangle and offers a wide variety of specialized services including surgery for diseases of the eye, vision examinations, eye safety information, sports medicine protective eyewear and counseling, contact lenses and evaluation, and all types of ocular diagnosis and treatment. Many types of surgery are available, including cataract and laser surgery. We are here for you and your eye and overall health. Give us a call today!

This article about Alzheimer’s disease and eyes is brought to you by the professional team atPark Ophthalmology located in the Triangle Region of North Carolina.

The information contained in this blog article is intended solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be offered as medical advice.


Park Ophthalmology

5306 NC Highway 55, Suite 102 (adjacent to the RTP/ Research Triangle Park)

Durham, NC 27713

Office: 919 544 5375

Fax: 919 544 5829


Park Ophthalmology North

6512 Six Forks Road, Suite 105

Raleigh, NC 27615

919 846 6915

Photo: Arztsamui,

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