Morphological and structural ocular changes are associated with Alzheimer’s disease

Vancouver, BC
— The effects of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, on the health of the ocular surface is unclear. Two studies to be presented at 2019 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Sunday, April 28 to Thursday, May 2), examine the biologic changes in both the cornea and the retina that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and begin to determine whether these changes can serve as diagnostic biomarkers.

Corneal nerves, immune cells altered in mice with abnormal tau proteins in the brain

Abnormal tau proteins in the brain are a hallmark of frontotemporal dementia, a clinical feature in Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study by Haihan Jiao, PhD from University of Melbourne aimed to determine if the cornea can serve as a useful window to diagnose the disease or risk for it earlier. The study shows that the corneal nerves and immune cells are altered in mice with abnormal tau proteins, a hallmark of the frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, the scientists examined the corneal nerves and immune cells in 8- and 11-month-old mice with and without the abnormal tau proteins. They have found that the corneal nerves and immune cells were altered in mice with the abnormal tau proteins, which suggests that examination of the cornea could be used to understand more about development and severity of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The preliminary findings will be further studied, with the aim of confirming and defining the corneal changes associated with the abnormal tau accumulation. “We hope to develop a robust ocular biomarker that could be used clinically to monitor the disease progression.” said Jiao.

Abstract title: Novel alterations to the corneal neuroimmune phenotype in mice with central nervous system tauopathy
Presentation start/end time: Monday, April 29, 9:45 - 10am
Location: East Ballroom
Presentation Number: 1352

Live-eye imaging of retinal deposits possible for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

Development of retinal deposits have been previously associated with Alzheimer’s disease but were thought to occur too far in the periphery of the retina to make live-eye imaging a practical tool for diagnosis. Researchers, led by Melanie C. W. Campbell, PhD, of University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, imaged a total of 25 donor eyes, focusing on deposits in the field of view, which would be consistent with live-eye imaging. Results show that, using polarization, that it actually is not necessary to image deposits in the far periphery of the retina, due to the relation of the deposits to the optic nerve head. Therefore, imaging of retinal deposits may be a promising tool for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We can image amyloid deposits in the eye of a living patient without a dye and these deposits predict the severity of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain,” said Campbell. “This will be a non-invasive and inexpensive way to diagnose the disease early enough to enable better treatments."

Abstract title: Distribution of retinal amyloid deposits in association with Alzheimer’s disease
Presentation start/end time: Tuesday, April 30, 11:45am - 1:30pm
Location: West Exhibition Hall
Posterboard Number: A0582


The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at

The 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting will take place in Vancouver, BC from April 28 – May 2. The Meeting is the premiere gathering of nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from around the world. During the Meeting, more than 6,600 abstracts will be presented on the latest basic and translational research in eye and vision science.

All abstracts accepted for presentation at the ARVO Annual Meeting represent previously unpublished data and conclusions. This research may be proprietary or may have been submitted for journal publication. Embargo policy: Journalists must seek approval from the presenter(s) before reporting data from paper or poster presentations. Press releases or stories on information presented at the ARVO Annual Meeting may not be released or published until the conclusion of the presentation.

Media contact:
Julene Joy