While it has been said that the eyes are a window to the soul, a new study shows they could be a means for understanding diseases of the brain. According to new research by scientists at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, retinal scans can detect key changes in blood vessels that may provide an early sign of Alzheimer’s, while offering important insights into how one of the most common Alzheimer’s risk genes contributes to the disease.
“The most prevalent genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease is a variant of the APOE gene, known as APOE4,” said lead author Fanny Elahi, MD, PhD. “We still don’t fully understand how this variant increases risk of brain degeneration, we just know that it does, and that this risk is modified by sex, race, and lifestyle. “Our research provides new insights into how APOE4 impacts blood vessels and may provide a path forward for early detection of neurodegenerative disease.”