Scientists in Australia are reporting encouraging early results from a simple eye test they hope will give a noninvasive way to detect signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although it has been tried on just a small number of people and more research is needed, the experimental test has a solid basis: Alzheimer’s is known to cause changes in the eyes, not just the brain. Other scientists in the United States also are working on an eye test for detecting the disease.

A separate study found that falls might be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s. People who seemed to have healthy minds but who were discovered to have hidden plaques clogging their brains were five times more likely to fall during the study than those without these brain deposits, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Both studies were discussed Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in France.

More than 5.4 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. It has no cure and drugs only temporarily ease symptoms, so finding it early mostly helps patients and their families prepare and arrange care.

Brain scans can find evidence of Alzheimer’s a decade or more before it causes memory and thinking problems, but they’re too expensive and impractical for routine use. A simple eye test and warning signs like falls could be a big help.

The eye study involved photographing blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer lining the back of the eyes. Most eye doctors have the cameras used for this, but it takes a special computer program to measure blood vessels for the experimental test doctors are using in the Alzheimer’s research, said the study’s leader, Shaun Frost of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.


Similar Posts:

Share