New study shows an eye scan can detect signs of Alzheimer's disease
New study shows an eye scan can detect signs of Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's in focus - how a simple eye test can predict onset of disease
14 March, 2019, 08:09
The primary aim for researchers was to spot retinal degeneration that may be particularly linked to Alzheimer's disease. The differences in density were statistically significant after researchers controlled for factors like age, gender, and level of education.
Previously researchers have known about the changes that occur in the brain and in the small blood vessels in people with Alzheimer's disease. For those with Alzheimer's, the same vessels are sparse and lacking in different areas. "We also found a reduction in the thickness of (of a specific layer of the retina) in Alzheimer's patients compared to controls and those with mild cognitive impairment".
The eye scan used in the study could reveal changes in tiny capillaries, most less than half the width of a human hair, before blood vessel changes show up on a brain scan, according to the study.
IBM has introduced machine learning (ML) to the medical diagnostic fields in the hope that it could one day help clinicians predict the risk of Alzheimer's disease long before it gets detected.
The test involved a machine that performed optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), a non-invasive procedure that only takes a few minutes. Results could be helpful in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
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.
It would also give patients time to plan for the future with their families - while they still have their faculties, said the USA team. Prof Fekrat and colleagues said this offers "a window into the disease process". "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".
"The retina has a dense spider web of blood vessels, and we were interested in the density of these blood vessels".
She added: "We need to detect the disease earlier and introduce treatments earlier".
Upwards of 5.5 million Americans are estimated to possibly have the brain wasting disease, according to NIH, and these numbers will continue to increase in years to come if no cure is found, projections suggest an impending and staggering global impact of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.
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