Symptoms of dementia usually include memory loss and confusion, however a more careful eye view could also reveal the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a US survey.
Scientists have found that our eyes may provide early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease! In particular, a joint study by the American Cedars-Sinai Hospital and NeuroVision LLC showed that the retinal analytical imaging could detect the condition.
How Alzheimer connects with the retina
What makes this “x-ray” of the retina is whether there is accumulation of β-amyloid protein in the retina, the light-sensitive back layer of the eye. The plaques generated by the accumulation of β-amyloid in the brain are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
The new imaging system is non-invasive, as opposed to current practices such as positron emission tomography or CT, which are invasive, as well as troublesome and costly.
What the researchers say
“This is the first study demonstrating imaging ability and quantifying retinal findings related to non-invasive β-amyloid plaques in living patients using retinal scan with high resolution,” said Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai Hospital , and founder of NeuroVision.
“The findings from this study strongly suggest that retinal imaging can serve as a biomarker substitute for the investigation and monitoring of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Koronoyo-Hamaoui said. Scientists are now beginning to focus on eye examination as a way of detecting or monitoring the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
“As the organ of the central nervous system that shares many of the brain’s features, the retina can provide a unique opportunity for us to easily detect and monitor Alzheimer’s disease,” said Keith L. Black, NeuroVision’s chairman and researcher at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
And he added: “We know that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is 10 or 20 years before the first obvious symptoms and we believe that possible treatments can be more effective if they can start early in the process. Therefore, detection and early diagnosis can be vital to our efforts to defeat this destructive illness. ”
This latest research strengthens findings from the same group in 2010, which revealed the existence of β-amyloid plaques in the human retina. In the new study, researchers found 4.7-fold higher β-amyloid concentration in Alzheimer’s retinal patients. They hope that this could lead to a practical approach to the widespread diagnosis and monitoring of degenerative disease.