Week in review: Alzheimer’s-related retinal changes, patient material readability, curbing blood vessel growth

Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Glaucoma, Retina/Vitreous

A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

Retinal changes can be seen in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to findings from a multinational study that looked at eye and brain tissue samples from deceased donors who had either mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Compared with retinal tissues from matched controls with normal cognition, tissues from the donors with MCI or AD had significant increases in amyloid β-protein (Aβ42), a known AD biomarker. These findings suggest that accumulation of Aβ42 in the retina could be an early indication of AD. Acta Neuropathologica

To help patients, glaucoma educational materials must be easier to read. Most educational materials are pitched too high, say researchers who evaluated the readability of 200 online patient education articles on glaucoma diagnosis and treatment. On average, regardless of the source, the articles were written at an 11th-grade reading level; only 13% of the diagnosis-related articles and 9% of the treatment-related articles were written at or below a 6th-grade reading level. The authors conclude that there is a need for information on glaucoma diagnosis and treatment that is both accurate and understandable that patients can use to make informed eye care decisions. Clinical Ophthalmology

A key protein is a promising target for reducing abnormal ocular blood vessel growth. Researchers at the University of Virginia have identified a link between the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) protein and VEGF-A levels in mouse models. When the protein was blocked, less VEGF-A was released and choroidal neovascularization was curbed. The ocular effects of this discovery could potentially include the development of FTO inhibitors to treat angiogenic eye diseases such as neovascular AMD. Co-lead investigator Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati said, “Our study has opened up the possibility of mitigating aberrant blood vessel growth in eye diseases by targeting the epigenetic machinery. Through local targeting of the epigenetic regulator, we have gained a deeper understanding of how ocular immune cells can cause a loss of control over blood vessel growth under the retina.” University of Virginia School of Medicine; Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy

Two ophthalmologists have been awarded the 2023 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine. The prize, which honors physicians who have notable innovative and creative achievements, was given this year to Drs. Jean Bennett and Albert Maguire at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine for their work on retinal gene therapies. Drs. Bennett and Maguire’s research focuses on Leber’s congenital amaurosis and choroideremia, both rare inherited conditions. Harrington Discovery Institute

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