It may be possible in the future to use a simple eye exam to screen patients for Alzheimer’s disease, Newswise reports.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis used technology similar to what is found in many eye doctors' offices to detect evidence of Alzheimer’s in older patients who had no symptoms of the disease.
The study involved 30 patients and was published last week in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
Alzheimer’s disease can cause significant brain damage years before any symptoms such as memory loss and cognitive decline appear. Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s-related plaques can build up in the brain 20 years before the onset of symptoms, and they have been looking for ways to detect the disease sooner.
Doctors now use expensive and invasive techniques such as PET scans and lumbar punctures to help diagnose Alzheimer’s.
In the study, the researchers used a noninvasive technique called optical coherence tomography angiography to examine the retinas of study participants with an average age in the mid 70s. None of them exhibited clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
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