Simple eye exam could successfully detect Alzheimer’s disease years before symptoms arise, new research shows
A new eye test that is simple to perform could help primary care providers effectively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease many years before signs and symptoms show up in patients. That means it may also be possible to conduct medication trials for treating or preventing the progression of the disease, according to new research.
As reported by United Press International, scientists at the University of Minnesota discovered differences in light pattern reflection off the retinas of mice that progressively changed as they developed Alzheimer’s disease. That suggested to researchers that the ailment could be detected long before symptoms present themselves either to patients or to their doctors.
At present there is no reliable test for Alzheimer’s disease. Currently it is diagnosed from a set of symptoms that present themselves and grow progressively worse over time.
And, while scientists still don’t know exactly what causes the disease, research indicates that amyloid plaque buildup in the brain may be the culprit. Scientists have linked the buildup – which can be detected utilizing a special device – to steadily declining mental, memory and cognitive skills as the disease progresses.
Researchers at the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota note that the retina and brain undergo similar changes as a result of Alzheimer’s; they are both connected because they are part of the central nervous system. However, because the retina is readily accessible for examination, the changes there are much easier to detect, UPI reported.