Imagine if an eye test could detect Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline pathology early! If this was possible, many more people would have the opportunity to implement lifestyle changes and prevention tactics. Researchers from University of Otago have been investigating the potential of the retina to indicate cognitive decline before it happens.
The study analyzed eye measurements of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) andganglion cell layer (GCL), across 865 participants (45 years old).
- Those who had thicker RNFL and GCL in middle age had better childhood and adulthood cognitive performance.
- Those who had thinner RNFL had greater decline in processing speed; anindicator of cognitive health.
The Hearty Take
Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases of aging are difficult to diagnose and usually diagnosed when individuals start losing their memory and/or behaving in ways different from ordinary. Using the eye as a window into the brain is somewhat intuitive given that eyes are actually an extension of the brain. At Hearty, we see this as an exciting development to keep tracking because there may be a day when advanced screening will allow you to check on your long-term cognition (maybe with a trip to the optometrist)! Nonetheless, regular optometrist visits support long-term eye health.