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Could a Simple Eye Exam Detect Signs of Alzheimer’s?

 

Could a Simple Eye Exam Detect Signs of Alzheimer’s ?


They say the eye is the window to the soul. However, in the medical world, the eye may be the window to your Central Nervous System.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s has proved to be a challenge. Current techniques are able to detect the signs of the disease, such as Brain Scans & Spinal Taps. However, they are expensive, risky, & impractical for screening. Most Alzheimer’s is diagnosed via memory tests & observing behavioral changes. By the time these changes are noticed, the disease would be at an advanced stage.  
Knowing this, Scientists have been sparing no effort to find a quick, non-invasive, & inexpensive way to detect Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stages. The latest study conducted by Duke Eye Center & published in Ophthalmology Retina, a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, suggests that a simple eye exam might detect Alzheimer’s disease. 
The study compared the retinas in eyes of Alzheimer’s patients, patients with mild cognitive impairment, as well as cognitively healthy individuals. The examination was done using OTCA (Optical Coherence Tomographic Angiography) which combines the structural information on the eye obtained from tomography with measures of blood flow & microvasculature structure. Researchers found that the blood vessel density in the Retina in Alzheimer patients was much thinner in comparison to the other groups.  
The Retina is made up of brain tissue & it’s connected to the brain via the optic nerve. Thus, it is considered to be an extension of the brain, & so changes in the retina could mirror the changes occurring in the brain from Dementia. 
Furthermore, as of this year, researchers in Rhode Island & Florida are launching the Atlas of Retinal Imaging in Alzheimer’s Study (ARIAS), which will further aid ophthalmic detection of Alzheimer’s. 
The eye has long been used in the diagnosis of many conditions, such as Diabetes & Hypertension. These new studies may be a stepping stone in diagnosing prodromal Alzheimer’s, & may pave the way for researchers to further investigate sensitive biomarkers & new medications which could be more effective when given early


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