Eye scan may detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease

14 March, 2019, 08:12 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Eye scan may detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease

This latest research is the largest study to date and adds to the current literature as scientists strive to find a quick, noninvasive, and low-cost way to detect Alzheimer's at the earliest stages.

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. 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. "Now we can look at blood vessels that are at the level of capillaries in the different layers of the retina".

The findings were reported in Ophthalmology Retina, a publication of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The new findings couldn't have happened without a new scanning technology, called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), that allows users to see in fine detail the structure of the back part of the eye.

He also claimed that the learning model could drastically slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

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Dr. Fekrat believes that if more people in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's could be recruited into clinical trials, there is a bigger potential for better treatments to be discovered.

The peptide known as amyloid-beta has been proven to change prior to visible memory-related issues, and examination of the concentration of the amyloid-beta in the spinal fluid can provide an indication of the risk of Alzheimer's disease years before it can occur.

It would also give patients time to plan for the future with their families - while they still have their faculties, said the U.S. team. Some techniques can detect signs of the disease but are impractical for screening millions of people: Brain scans are expensive and spinal taps have risks. The medical field for one could stand to benefit, and IBM is putting its resources to work in a new AI blood test that could help detect Alzheimer's ahead of time.

"It's possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what's going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition", Sharon Fekrat, MD, the study's senior author, said in a Duke Health news release. OCTA machines use light waves that reveal blood flow in every layer of the retina.

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