A recent study suggests that there may be a link between degenerative eye diseases and detection of Alzheimer’s in patients. Degenerative eye diseases and Alzheimer’s are not directly related but this experiment gives insight into identifying cognitive diseases before they come to fruition.

The University of Washington School of Medicine, The UW School of Nursing, and the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Institute reported results on an experiment that has been conducted for over five years. The experiment included about four thousand individuals all over the age of 65 who had no known signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Over five years of observation, almost eight hundred individuals were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The experiment concluded that individuals with degenerative eye diseases were forty to fifty percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than patients with no known prior eye diseases.

“The main message from this study is that ophthalmologists should be more aware of the risks of developing dementia for people with these eye conditions and primary care doctors seeing patients with these eye conditions might be more careful on checking on possible dementia or memory loss.” – Dr. Cecilia Lee, lead researcher.

Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise across the US and doctors are finding ways to potentially catch the onset of the disease before official diagnosis to be proactive with treatment plans. This is one experiment, of many others that have been conducted in previous years, that is adding to the piling evidence that diseases of the eye could be a potential precursor to degenerative diseases occurring in the brain.

A main factor in the experiment was observing the eye for traces of amyloid beta. Amyloid beta plays a vital role in both Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in people over 65 years of age. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has a relatable aggressor both in the eyes and the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study and many other studies conducted like this, scientists, researchers, and ophthalmologists can begin to see similarities with their patient’s eyes and brain and hopefully become proactive in treating their cognitive health.