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New Eye Scan Could Detect Alzheimer's

31st May 2016
New Eye Scan Could Detect Alzheimer's

We all know the eyes are the windows to the soul, but new research suggests they may also be a window to the brain as scientists have developed a new scan that can detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

This early detection could give an individual the opportunity to benefit from the most effective therapies to slow the progression of the disease. This research was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Seattle.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and the number of cases continues to grow unchallenged. There is currently no cure for the disease but there are medicines that can slow the development of many of the classic symptoms such as loss of memory and communication skills.

The cause of Alzheimer's is still unknown, although we do know that the disease appears to be linked to the accumulation of proteins in the brain that are used to defend against bacteria. These proteins can build up over time and, if not removed quickly, can disrupt brain communication and cause neurons to die.

As it stands, doctors can only be sure that a patient had Alzheimer's after death - this is because an autopsy is required to provide definitive evidence that the relevant proteins are present. This could change thanks to the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) to observe microscopic brain details directly through the eye.

A painless scan through the retina of a patient can look for any abnormalities and highlight any emerging symptoms. The OCT technique, once perfected, could provide the first step in assessing the development of Alzheimer's in patients long before their death.

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