Retina offers a look at the brain

While it is known that the retina is a crucial part of vision, it is also viewed by many doctors to be the window to the brain, since it is linked directly to the brain via the optic nerve.

Armed with this knowledge, researchers at the University of Illinois/Chicago are creating imaging techniques that will allow them to study the tiniest of changes in the retina that are flags for brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers hope to create non-invasive imaging techniques that are able to detect changes in the connections between blood vessels and nerves in the retina (referred to as neurovascular coupling), which are markers for brain and eye diseases and thus be able to diagnose and treat diseases at a much earlier stage.

Since MRI’s cannot image microcapillaries and photoreceptors, researchers are utilizing OCT/OCTA to examine neurovascular changes in the retina in mice with Alzheimer’s disease to evaluate the interactions between individual photoreceptors and their blood vessels in the retina.

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