Alzheimer’s proteins behind vision loss in elderly: Study

Researchers have found a group of proteins — known to be the likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease — that get accumulated in the ageing retina causing damage to it and are also the key reason behind a vision loss condition among individuals aged 50 and older.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — a leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older — is a progressive disease that causes the death of the retinal photoreceptors, the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye.

The most severe damage occurs in the macula, a small area of the retina that is needed for sharp, central vision necessary for reading, driving and other daily tasks.

The study found that the amyloid beta proteins entered the cells of the retina within 24 hours of exposure and then began to break the cell’s scaffold structure.

“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,” said lead author Arjuna Ratnayaka, lecturer at the University of Southampton, Britian.

“AMD currently affects nearly 50 million individuals worldwide. This figure is expected to rise significantly as our society grows older. We urgently need new treatments to stop people spending their twilight years in blindness,” Ratnayaka said.

The study was published in the journal Experimental Eye Research.