Leo Sher, M.D.
An article entitled, “Retinal thickness in Alzheimer’s disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis” was recently published in the journal Alzheimer’s & dementia: diagnosis, assessment & disease monitoring (1). A research group from the Netherlands performed a meta-analysis of research studies of retinal thickness in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment patients and healthy controls. Twenty-five studies with measurements of retinal thickness were included in the meta-analysis. These 25 studies enrolled 887 Alzheimer’s disease patients, 216 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 864 healthy controls. Retinal neurons can be examined by way of high-resolution optical methods such as optical coherence tomography visualizing thickness of retinal layers.
The authors found that retinal thickness is decreased in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment patients compared to healthy controls. The authors suggest that retinal neurodegeneration is present in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment patients and might therefore mirror brain pathology. The authors propose that future research should focus on optical coherence tomography measurements in a well-described cohort of preclinical, prodromal (i.e., mild cognitive impairment) and demented Alzheimer’s disease patients.
1. Den Haan J, Verbraak FD, Visser PJ, Bouwman FH. Retinal thickness in Alzheimer’s disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring 2017; 6:162-170.