Health Care

Alzheimer's eye test 'could be game changer'

Alzheimer's eye test 'could be game changer'”

She and her team found microscopic blood vessels formed in a dense web at the back of the eye, inside the retina, in 133 of the study's healthy participants.

The new study's authors propose reduced blood flow to the eyes may be because the protein that signals blood vessels to grow and proliferate is found at low levels in people with Alzheimer's.

The differences in density were "statistically significant" after the researchers took into account other factors such as age and sex.

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.

"The company's Australian arm, IBM Research, Australia, undertook a research and published its findings in journal Scientific Reports". "The very earliest changes in the brain can appear up to 20 years before we see clinical symptoms, so the holy grail would be to identify and treat people the moment these changes start".

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.

An OCTA scan could even reveal the changes in tiny capillaries nearly less than half the width of a human hair, before the blood vessels changes are displayed on a brain scan such as an MRI or cerebral angiogram, which highlights only the larger blood vessels.

Citing a previous research, Goudey said: "Examining the concentration of the peptide in an individual's spinal fluid provides an indication of risk decades before any memory related issues occur". Even though there is now no cure, early diagnosis will allow researchers to study new medications earlier as future treatments may be more effective when given early. Virginia was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. But such techniques to study the brain are invasive and costly.

"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", said Fekrat. "Whether that's through retinal imaging, blood biomarkers or minor changes in speech, we envision a future in which health professionals have a wide array of easily accessible data available to more clearly identify and track the onset and acceleration of these conditions", Goudey added.



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