Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Eye test could spot Alzheimer's earlier

Eye test could spot Alzheimer's earlier

IBM also claims that amid the wide range of other proposed blood tests for Alzheimer's disease that are now being developed, this is the first study to use machine learning to identify sets of proteins in the blood that are predictive of a biomarker in spinal fluid.

The researchers scanned the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer's disease, 37 people with mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's, and 133 people without either of those diagnoses. The differences in density were statistically significant after researchers controlled for factors like age, gender, and level of education.

They found that the blood vessel network was less dense in the Alzheimer's patients compared with the other groups. In addition, a specific layer of the retina was thinner in those with Alzheimer's.

"It's possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what's going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition". The findings were published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina.

Standard optical equipment is not now strong enough to detect the vessels, which are about half the width of a strand of hair, but they did have success using a non-invasive technology called optical coherence demography and geography. Prof Fekrat and colleagues said this offers "a window into the disease process".

The peptide known as amyloid-beta has been proven to change prior to visible memory-related issues, and examination of the concentration of the amyloid-beta in the spinal fluid can provide an indication of the risk of Alzheimer's disease years before it can occur.

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"It can't be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease quite yet". Earlier diagnosis would also give patients and their families time to plan for the future. But such techniques to study the brain are invasive and costly.

"There is a strong effort in the research community to develop a less invasive test, such as a blood test that can yield information about Alzheimer's disease risk, " he said.

She added: "We need to detect the disease earlier and introduce treatments earlier".

They looked at the retinas of 200 people using a new non-invasive technology that takes high-resolution images of the retina.

In the USA alone, 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer's dementia, according to 2019 data from the Alzheimer's Association.

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