November 07, 2019
1 min read

$17.2 million grant awarded to research Alzheimer’s connection with eye health

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The National Institute on Aging has awarded a $17.2 million grant to University of Washington School of Medicine assistant professor of ophthalmology Cecilia Lee, MD, to lead a research team looking to make connections between eye diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.

The team, comprised of University of Washington and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute investigators, is undertaking the Eye ACT study to determine associations between modern ophthalmic data and cognitive decline and to determine associations of ophthalmic disease severity with neuropathological indicators of Alzheimer’s and dementia, Lee told

“Our hope is that by studying the aging eye, we will better understand Alzheimer’s disease and the aging brain,” she said. “We will obtain and study modern ophthalmic data from an extremely well-characterized population-based cohort of older adults to establish which ocular biomarkers are associated with cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and neuropathology in the brain.”

The trial will leverage ophthalmic data with state-of-the-art imaging and archived clinical data, including a rare autopsy cohort, to examine changes in the retina connected with Alzheimer’s.

“As a direct extension of the central nervous system, the eye provides us with a unique, non-invasive opportunity to evaluate the health of the brain,” Lee said. “If successful, our studies may substantially enhance scientific understanding of the role of modern ophthalmic evaluations in delineating risk of Alzheimer's disease and improve the potential of expediting treatment discoveries in Alzheimer's disease.” – by Rebecca L. Forand