Eye test could highlight early signs of Alzheimer’s

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By Alice Tuohy | Thursday 23 August 2018

JAMA Ophthalmology: Association of Preclinical Alzheimer Disease With Optical Coherence Tomographic Angiography Findings

A team of scientists at Washington University have found that a non-invasive eye test could help identify people with brain changes linked to early Alzheimer’s disease. The findings are published today (Thursday 23 August) in the scientific publication, JAMA Ophthalmology.

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Alzheimer’s disease can get underway in the brain up to 20 years before symptoms start to show. As future treatments are likely to be most effective when given early, it is critical we find ways to detect the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.

“While there is currently no single reliable biological test for Alzheimer’s, brain scans and spinal fluid samples taken by lumbar puncture, can reveal some changes linked to the early stages of the disease.

“In this study, researchers linked features of the eye, including the thickness and width of a part of the retina, to biological indications of Alzheimer’s, but did not go on to see if participants actually developed symptoms of the disease.

“While the eye tests used in this research are relatively quick, inexpensive and non-invasive, as only 30 people took part in the study, we still need to see more research before we can tell how useful this method could be for highlighting early signs of Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK is currently co-funding a pioneering research study with charity Fight for Sight at Moorfields Eye Hospital that is using a machine learning approach to analyse over 2 million eye scans to look for features that could indicate the presence of diseases like Alzheimer’s.”


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Alice Tuohy