America’s burden of vision impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), and cardiovascular disease will continue to rise over the next 40 years. The burden of these diseases will be greater for women, Hispanics, African-Americans, and those from lower socio-economic regions. A key challenge is to develop strategies to deny the organization of the pathologies that eventually lead to the manifestation of the disease. An important feature within this battle is the development of appropriate tools and biomarkers for early reconnaissance of the enemy. Recent advances in Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA) present a unique opportunity to examine physiological features of the eyes that overlap with structures within the brain and heart. Specifically, tracking of the vessel density and thickness of the nerve fiber layers of the eye may provide valuable information regarding an individual’s path towards visual impairment, ADRD, and cardiovascular disease. Thus, OCTA can extend eye care beyond capturing those who are at risk for vision loss, and include examination of biomarkers which provide information concerning trajectories of cognitive and cardiovascular health. Given loss of vision is perceived as ‘the worst ailment that could happen to person’ across all ethnic and racial groups, Ophthalmologists and Optometrists can not only provide a path toward improved eye health, but also serve as an innovative access point for early detection of individuals at risk for ADRD and Cardiovascular disease.
McLendon, Dawn S.; Butler, Kenneth R. PhD; and Welsch, Michael A. PhD, FACSM
"Ocular Biomarkers of Disease: Employing Routine Eye Exams to Promote Better Health Surveillance,"
Journal of Public Health in the Deep South: Vol. 1:
2, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/jphds/vol1/iss2/7