Simple eye scan may be key to detecting Alzheimer’s early, study finds

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but could they also be a window into your brain health?

Dementia affects around 15 people out of every 1000 in Australia, with Alzheimer’s disease being by far the most common form. If you restrict the data to just Australians aged 65 and above, that figure jumps to 84 people in 1000.

Successful management of Alzheimer’s disease largely depends on how early the condition is detected and how soon treatment is started.

Existing Alzheimer’s diagnostic methods include many lengthy, and sometimes invasive, tests that can delay treatment. So finding new ways to detect Alzheimer’s earlier is a priority

Now, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the US believe they may have found a way to identify Alzheimer’s biomarkers quickly and non-invasively, potentially heralding a breakthrough in how Alzheimer’s is detected and managed.

The study, published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, looked at brain and retinal tissue samples from more than 86 post-mortem Alzheimer’s cases.

When compared with healthy brain and retinal tissue, the researchers found there were molecular, cellular and structural changes to the retinas of those in the Alzheimer’s group.

The retinas of the Alzheimer’s patients also showed higher concentrations of beta-amyloid plaques, which are common in the brains of dementia sufferers.

Neuro-ophthalmologist Dr Howard Krauss told Medical News Today the study proves there is potential to use retinal scanning for Alzheimer’s testing, but that the technology is not quite there yet.

“This study confirms that the same cellular, chemical and molecular changes that are in evidence in the Alzheimer’s brain are evident in the retina,” he said.

“Although there have been technologic advances to date, which allow finer and finer anatomic retinal evaluation, and correlations with the degenerative changes of Alzheimer’s disease have been described, there is not yet a technology that allows a retinal scan to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.

“The hope, however, is that the technology is ‘around the corner’, but much more investment of research time and money is needed.”

Have you ever been tested for Alzheimer’s disease? How did you find the experience? Let us know in the comments section below.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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