Alzheimer's disease and glaucoma: imaging the biomarkers of neurodegenerative disease

Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2011 Jan 5;2010:793931. doi: 10.4061/2010/793931.


Imaging through the visual system in Alzheimer's disease, with the technology currently in widespread use for the diagnosis and management of eye disease such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, is proving to be promising. In vivo cross-section imaging during an annual comprehensive eye exam has been available for a decade for glaucoma and macular degeneration, and this same imaging, using Optical Coherence Tomography, has been demonstrated to show deficits specific to AD and mild cognitive impairment. These deficits are in the form of nerve fiber layer tissue drop out in the retina and optic nerve. The retrograde loss of nerve fiber layer tissue in the retina and optic nerve may be an early biomarker of AD, and these deficits in the nerve fiber layer of the retina and optic nerve may be the earliest sign of AD, even prior to damage to the hippocampal region that impacts memory.