Ocular Manifestations of Alzheimer’s and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases: The Prospect of the Eye as a Tool for the Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is a major disorder, leading to several ocular manifestations amongst the elderly population. These visual disorders may be due to retinal nerve degenerative changes, including nerve fibre layer thinning, degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, and changes to vascular parameters. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but medicines can slow down the development of many of the classic symptoms, such as loss of memory and communication skills, mood swings, and depression. The disease diagnosis is difficult, and it is only possible through PET scans of the brain, detecting evidence of the accumulation of amyloid and tau. PET is expensive and invasive, requiring the injection of radioactive tracers, which bind with these proteins and glow during scanning. Recently, scientists developed promising eye-scan techniques that may detect Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stage, before major symptoms appear, leading to improved management of the disease symptoms. In this review, we are discussing the visual abnormalities of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, focused on ocular functional-visual-structural biomarkers, retinal pathology, and potential novel diagnostic tools.
Received 2 March 2018; Revised 7 June 2018; Accepted 26 June 2018; Published 30 July 2018