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Indian J Ophthalmol. 2020 Apr;68(4):555-561. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_999_19.

Use of ocular biomarkers as a potential tool for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

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Consultant and Anterior Segment Surgeon, Department of Ophthalmology, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Faridabad, Haryana, India.
WNS Global Services Pvt. Ltd., Gurugram, Haryana, India.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease worldwide which unfortunately has no known effective cure to date. Despite many clinical trials indicating the effectiveness of preclinical treatment, a sensitive tool for screening of AD is yet to be developed. Due to multiple similarities between ocular and the brain tissue, the eye is being explored by researchers for this purpose, with utmost attention focused on the retinal tissue. Besides visual functional impairment, neuronal degeneration and apoptosis, retinal nerve fiber degeneration, increase in the cup-to-disc ratio, and retinal vascular thinning and tortuosity are the changes observed in the retinal tissue which are related to AD. Studies have shown that targeting these changes in the retina is an effective way of reducing the degeneration of retinal neuronal tissue. Similar mechanisms of neurodegeneration have been demonstrated in the brain and the eyes of AD patients. Multiple studies are underway to investigate the potential of diagnosing AD and detection of amyloid-β (Aβ) levels in the retinal tissue. Since the tissues in the anterior segment of the eye are more accessible for in vivo imaging and examination, they have more potential as screening biomarkers. This article provides a concise review of available literature on the ocular biomarkers in anterior and posterior segments of the eye including the cornea, aqueous humour (AH), crystalline lens, and retina in AD. This review will also highlight the newer technological tools available for the detection of potential biomarkers in the eye for early diagnosis of AD.


Alzheimer's disease; biomarker; neurodegeneration; ocular; retinal

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