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Eyes could show risk of Alzheimer’s, UW study finds

A UW Medicine study found patients with certain eye diseases were at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

You've heard the saying that "eyes are the windows to the soul," but a study released Wednesday from UW Medicine found your eyes could show your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Because our eyes are connected to the central nervous system, doctors decided to look at what's going on in the eye to find out what's also happening in the aging brain. For the study, researchers recruited people 65 and older who did not have Alzheimer’s disease at the time of enrollment.

What they found was that patients with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma were twice as likely to be at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

“Because you have those eye conditions does not mean you will develop Alzheimer's. It just means that your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease might be higher than the other people who do not have those eye conditions,” said Dr. Cecilia Lee, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Doctors say it's too early to tell if an eye exam could help diagnose Alzheimer's but gives doctors more guidance on potential screening methods and future treatment.

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