An eye test could one day be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, it is important to recognize the condition early, as some symptoms are reversible and treatable. But there is currently no reliable biological test for the disease, and diagnostic methods – such as the CSF test – are expensive and invasive.
Current research shows amyloid, the protein that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease, could also affect the retina. Washington University researchers in St. Louis hypothesized that a simple eye test could be used to diagnose neurodegenerative disease affecting 5.7 million people in America.
The researchers identified 30 adults who showed no signs of dementia and tested them for preclinical Alzheimer's disease biomarkers.
Read more: Skinny fat-body type linked to dementia risk in the study
Each participant had an optical coherence tomography angiographic examination examining the vascular system of the eye.
Of the total participants, 1
While the results of the study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology were promising, the authors acknowledged that more people are being investigated must determine whether such tests can one day be used to diagnose the disease.
Dr. Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at the Charity Alzheimer's Society, who was not involved in the study, commented: "Testing if changes in the eye, such as those in the retina, can be an early sign of dementia, is a fascinating field of research, but it is still too early to recognize this as a new way of diagnosing dementia. "
" Although this study was well conducted, it was very small and included only 30 people in very short time And without confirming that one of the people with preclinical Alzheimer's disease was actually involved in the development of the disease, we would have to see that this is done over a longer period of time in a much larger group to make clear conclusions . "
Dr. Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, praised the authors for research into a "relatively fast, inexpensive and non-invasive" approach to diagnosing the disease, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.
The study was published in the same week as another study in which eye exams detected Parkinson's disease, as a thinning retina could be a sign of neurodegenerative disease.