The loss of cells in the inner nuclear layer of the retina may be a predictor of Alzheimer’s disease, according to findings presented in November at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

A team of researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center and the University of Hong Kong studied the retinal thickness of mice genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s and compared them to a group of healthy, age-matched mice.

During the study, the researchers observed a significant loss of thickness in both the retinal ganglion cell layer and the inner nuclear layer of the retina. When compared with control mice, inner nuclear layer in the mice with Alzheimer’s exhibited a 37% loss of neurons and the retinal ganglion cell layer had a 49% loss of neurons.

The researchers say that eye care providers may be able to diagnose or predict Alzheimer’s by simply examining the thickness of these retinal layers with OCT. Additionally, new Alzheimer’s treatments may even prove useful for future glaucoma management.