Alzheimer's in focus - how a simple eye test can predict onset of disease
14 March, 2019, 08:13
Three biomarkers that indicate Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment have been identified by researchers from the University of Alberta, findings which may be groundbreaking if proven worthy of use in clinical settings. Since the retina is considered an "extension" of the brain because it sends signals to the optic nerve to create visual images, they wanted to see if similar blood vessel changes would occur in the eye.
However, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer's disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places than those of people with mild cognitive impairment and healthy people. 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.
Mr. Ben Goudey, a researcher at Genomics Research Team, Australia, claims that International Business Machine (IBM) learning model has proved capable to detect early onset of terminal neuro-degenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease).
Standard optical equipment is not now strong enough to detect the vessels, which are about half the width of a strand of hair, but they did have success using a non-invasive technology called optical coherence demography and geography. Results could be helpful in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
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In an online publication obtained on Monday, Goudey explained that Alzheimer has been diagnosed to be the cause of dementia - a decline in thinking and person's pattern of behaviour. Earlier diagnosis would also give patients and their families time to plan for the future.
Dr Fekrat said: 'Our work is not done. "It's not possible for current techniques like a brain scan or lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to screen the number of patients with this disease". More than 500,000 people in Britain suffer from Alzheimer's and the total is rising, but most are diagnosed too late to do anything about it. OCTA machines used light waves that reveal blood flow in every layer of the retina.
"It's possible these changes in blood vessel density in the retina may mirror what's going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain".
Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia affect 850,000 people in the United Kingdom - a figure set to rise to 2 million by 2050 because of the ageing population.
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