Retinal Venular Tortuosity Jointly with Retinal Amyloid Burden Correlates with Verbal Memory Loss: A Pilot Study


Retinal imaging is a non-invasive tool to study both retinal vasculature and neurodegeneration.

In this exploratory retinal curcumin-fluorescence imaging (RFI) study, we sought to determine whether retinal vascular features combined with retinal amyloid burden correlate with the neurocognitive status.


We used quantitative RFI in a cohort of patients with cognitive impairment to automatically compute retinal amyloid burden. Retinal blood vessels were segmented, and the vessel tortuosity index (VTI), inflection index, and branching angle were quantified.

We assessed the correlations between retinal vascular and amyloid parameters, and cognitive domain Z-scores using linear regression models.


Thirty-four subjects were enrolled and twenty-nine (55% female, mean age 64 ± 6 years) were included in the combined retinal amyloid and vascular analysis.

Eleven subjects had normal cognition and 18 had impaired cognition. Retinal VTI was discriminated among cognitive scores.

The combined proximal mid-periphery amyloid count and venous VTI index exhibited significant differences between cognitively impaired and cognitively normal subjects (0.49 ± 1.1 vs. 0.91 ± 1.4, p = 0.006), and correlated with both the Wechsler Memory Scale-IV and SF-36 mental component score Z-scores (p < 0.05).


This pilot study showed that retinal venular VTI combined with the proximal mid-periphery amyloid count could predict verbal memory loss.

Future research is needed to finesse the clinical application of this retinal imaging-based technology.