Study Links Alzheimer’s Proteins to Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Study Links Alzheimer’s Proteins to Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Alzheimer’s disease is still a great mystery for researchers. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), it afflicts approximately 5.1 million Americans. There are more current and developing cures for cancers than this debilitating affliction alone.

In fact, the AFA reports of Alzheimer’s acceleration,

“As our population ages, the disease impacts a greater percentage of Americans. The number of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050 to 88.5 million or 20 percent of the population; likewise, those 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

This is why researchers, continually grasping for straws when it comes to Alzheimer’s treatment, will entertain just about any connection that can help them better understand this disease. Now, recent research has been published linking proteins found in the retina of those afflicted with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to the same proteins found in brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

This research may be another piece to the ever growing puzzle of how to treat AMD as well as Alzheimer’s.

Amyloid-beta proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of life and just as much the building blocks of disease. Yet, stopping the acceleration of certain proteins can be very difficult. Those found in AMD, may hold clues to potential treatment.  They are called amyloid-beta proteins and are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s. In a study by researchers from the University of Southhampton, England it was found that these proteins could offer a variety of insights regarding treatment for AMD as well as unknown mechanisms and signs of Alzheimer’s.

Lead researcher, Dr. Arjuna Ratnayaka, comments,

“We know that AMD is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors, but this novel discovery could open up new possibilities to understand how the aging retina becomes damaged. Such advances are important if we are to develop better AMD treatments in the future.”

Fast and Furious

In laboratory studies that included animal as well as human data, the acceleration at which  amyloid-beta proteins progressed was alarming. In fact, it only took approximately twenty-four hours for the proteins to enter the retina and begin breaking down the cell structures. This, of course, was the beginning of eye disease, particularly AMD.

Dr. Arjuna Ratnayaka continues,

“The speed in which these proteins entered the retinal cells was unexpected. These findings have given some insights into how a normal healthy retina can switch to a diseased AMD retina. We hope that this could lead to designing better treatments for patients in the future.”

An Early Diagnosis

Recognizing the link between Alzheimer’s and AMD scientists can investigate further on how these presentations may offer early diagnosis to apply immediate treatment. In a 2016 study that cites combined research by shared data amongst US and UK researchers, published in Frontiers in Neurology, it was stated that,

“The eye offers itself as a transparent medium to cerebral pathology and has thus potentiated the development of ocular biomarkers for AD [Alzheimer’s disease]. The use of non-invasive screening, such as retinal imaging and visual testing, may enable earlier diagnosis in the clinical setting, minimizing invasive and expensive investigations. It also potentially improves disease management and quality of life for AD patients, as an earlier diagnosis allows initiation of medication and treatment.”


Scheduled eye checkups according to your doctor’s recommendations is a preventative measure that should have no compromise. These checkups are essential at detecting abnormalities such as amyloid-beta proteins and other clues that may enable medicine to slow down, or in some cases stop threats to healthy vision or other challenges such as AMD and Alzheimer’s.

There are other preventatives for AMD such as macular degeneration vitamins, a healthy diet high that includes anti-oxidants found in vegetables like dark green leafy types and essential fatty acids found in fish.

A recent meta-analysis study by Chinese researchers titled, ‘Fish Consumption and Age-Related Macular Degeneration’ published in Nutrients (2016) stated that,

“A total of 4202 cases with 128,988 individuals from eight cohort studies were identified in the current meta-analysis. Subgroup analyses by AMD stages showed that fish consumption would reduce the risk of both early and late AMD. When stratified by the follow-up duration, fish consumption was a protective factor of AMD in both over 10 years and less than 10 years follow-up duration. Stratified analyses by fish type demonstrated that dark meat fish, especially tuna fish intake was associated with reduced AMD risk. Evidence of a linear association between dose of fish consumption and risk of AMD was demonstrated.”

It is research like these and so many more studies that is giving more hope to the eradication of age-related macular degeneration. It is also extra exciting when studying one affliction, a link to another, like Alzheimer’s, occurs. Take care of your vision both directly and peripherally (ie; diet, exercise, protection, etc) for a bright, clear future.