Eye check-up to detect Alzheimer’s disease

14 March, 2019, 15:32 | Author: Patty Hardy
  • The Eyes Could Be The Window To Alzheimer's Disease, New Study Finds

Scientists from Duke University in the USA found the eye seems to reflect changes taking place deep within the brain. The findings were published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina. Within less than a minute, OCTA takes a non-invasive picture of the retina - the nerve cells in the back of our eyes that convert light from the outside world into nerve signals that the brain interprets into images. "Now we can look at blood vessels that are at the level of capillaries in the different layers of the retina".

Duke Eye Center recently recruited and studied the retinas of over 200 individuals to see if there were any differences between those with Alzheimer's and those without.

Duke University researchers found that these small retinal blood vessels were altered in patients with Alzheimer's disease, but in not in those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or those with no signs of mental decline. In cases of Alzheimer's disease, these microscopic vessels are found inside the retina as a dense web. Now, IBM is using machine learning to create a blood test that could possibly detect the disease decades before the symptoms even start.

In the USA alone, 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer's dementia, according to 2019 data from the Alzheimer's Association. It is rarer in younger people, although they can be affected by Alzheimer's too.

The typical process for diagnosing Alzheimer's isn't a fun one.

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This correlation could mean big things for the future of Alzheimer's diagnoses. Similar findings were discovered in 2018.

A new eye test could be used to spot early signs of Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

So why may there be poor blood supply to the eyes of people with Alzheimer's? Not only were the researchers able to detect differences between the Alzheimer's patients and the other two groups, but they were also able to see differences among the Alzheimer's patients that appeared to be linked with the severity of the disease. It may get trapped in the deposits of another protein called amyloid that is commonly associated with in the disease. OCTA is also not routinely available in eye doctor's offices across the country. Results could be helpful in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Ophthalmologist and senior author Sharon Fekrat, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology at Duke, along with lead author Dilraj Grewal, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Duke, expect that their work may one day have a positive impact on patients' lives.

It would also give patients time to plan for the future with their families - while they still have their faculties, said the United States team.

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