Medicine

Eye check-up to detect Alzheimer’s disease

Eye check-up to detect Alzheimer’s disease

The findings were published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina.

But US scientists at the Duke Eye Centre in North Carolina wondered if changes might also be visible in the retina, which is an extension of the brain and so could offer a window into what is happening behind the skull.

The researchers said that loss of blood vessels in retina would reflect changes in the brain, be it for both healthy people or Alzheimer's patients.

The researchers scanned the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer's disease, 37 people with mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's, and 133 people without either of those diagnoses.

"While a wide range of other proposed blood tests for Alzheimer's disease are being developed, this is the first study to use a machine learning approach to identify sets of proteins in blood that are predictive of a biomarker in spinal fluid", notes the researcher for IBM's genomics research team. For every additional 5 years of age beyond 65, the number of people living with Alzheimer's doubles.

Currently, there is no singular test that can diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

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An Alzheimer's diagnosis is now made based on clinical history and cognitive testing, without relying on imaging studies or blood tests.

This correlation could mean big things for the future of Alzheimer's diagnoses. Having a diagnostic aid like OCTA could potentially help with making an earlier diagnosis. Similar findings were discovered in 2018. They took images of their eyes and discovered the twin with Alzheimer's disease had significantly decreased blood vessel density in the retina.

So why may there be poor blood supply to the eyes of people with Alzheimer's? For those with Alzheimer's, the same vessels are sparse and lacking in different areas. OCTA is also not routinely available in eye doctor's offices across the country.

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.

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, with symptoms including gradual degradation of memory, confusion, and dementia, which can make many everyday tasks increasingly problematic. "We need to validate the study in larger groups of patients, and follow these patients with time".


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