Are there indicators of Alzheimer’s disease in the eye?: New computational imaging and analysis algorithms

Sieun Lee
Simon Fraser University
Q: What did we learn?

We know that amyloid beta, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, is present not only in the brain but also in the retina of the patients, and its deposition can vary by location and comorbidity such as cerebral amyloid atrophy.

Q: Why is this knowledge important?

Retina can be readily imaged in high detail, and it contains rich information about the person’s neuronal health. Retinal imaging has potential as an early and accessible screening tool for neurodegenerative diseases. Studying the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the retina also gives us insight into those in the brain.

Q: What are the next steps?

Professor Joanne A. Matsubara’s group at the University of British Columbia and I are continuing to collaborate to study retinal biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. We are currently looking into how amyloid beta affects glial cells and blood vessels in the retina.


Links to articles, papers and presentations connected this work:


The goal was to perform quantitative analysis of immunohistochemistry confocal microscopy images acquired from human and animal retinal tissue samples. The expected outcomes were statistical testing of our hypotheses regarding the retinal manifestations of Alzheimer's disease, for example increased amyloid beta load.

Amyloid beta (Ab) in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We investigated the Ab load in the post-mortem retinal tissues of AD patients using confocal microscopy, and found that the increased cerebral amyloid atrophy (CAA) in the patient's brain tissue was associated with increased Ab in the patient's retinal tissue.

Imagine a world without Alzheimer disease.