Imaging can show that a brain is filled with a protein called amyloid, which accumulates beyond normal limits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, brain imaging exams for amyloid are expensive, can be invasive, and not easily available, and hence cannot be used for general screening. The eye forms from the same tissue from which the brain forms, and they remain connected. It has been suggested that amyloid also accumulates in the retina of individuals with AD, but this has not been proven.
The main goal of this project is to develop a new retina imaging device using laser light that can show accumulation of amyloid in the retina. The team will test this device in the mouse model of AD and in AD patients. This work could lead to an inexpensive retina exam that could be used to screen everyone on a regular basis for the earliest signs of amyloid accumulation in the retina indicative of AD. This would results in savings for the health care system and might lead to better treatment outcomes.