Thinning Retina May Be Early Sign of Parkinson’s

A new study published in Neurology shows that thinning of the nerve cells in the back of the eye is linked to the loss of dopamine producers in the brain.

“Our study is the first to show a link between the thinning of the retina and a known sign of the progression of the disease — the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine,” said study author Jee-Young Lee, MD, PhD, of the Seoul Metropolitan Government – Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center in South Korea. “We also found the thinner the retina, the greater the severity of disease. These discoveries may mean that neurologists may eventually be able to use a simple eye scan to detect Parkinson’s disease in its earliest stages, before problems with movement begin.”

After evaluating 49 individuals (average age 69) who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, compared with 54 similarly aged healthy individuals, researchers found notable thinning on the two innermost of the retina’s five layers.

Individuals with more severe Parkinson’s were also found to have more retinal thinning.

“Larger studies are needed to confirm our findings and to determine just why retina thinning and the loss of dopamine-producing cells are linked,” said Lee. “If confirmed, retina scans may not only allow earlier treatment of Parkinson’s disease but more precise monitoring of treatments that could slow progression of the disease as well.”

Read more here.

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