How Eye Exams May Help Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

One common problem with Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosing it. By the time many who have it are diagnosed, it’s too late to help.

However, in the future, a certain type of eye exam may be able to detect Alzheimer’s disease even in its earliest stages, according to emerging research within ophthalmology.

In one study published recently in the journal Ophthalmology Retina that included 200 people (some of whom had Alzheimer’s), the technology optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA)  found that those with Alzheimer’s disease showed a loss of small blood vessels in their retina. Although this study is not the first to find a link between OCTA imaging and signs of Alzheimer’s, it’s the largest study to date, according to researchers.

Additionally, other research has found that retinal exams may be able to detect beta amyloids—a kind of plaque found in those with Alzheimer’s—decades before it is found elsewhere in the body.

One major advantage of retinal testing is that it is less invasive and less costly than current tests for Alzheimer’s, which can include a spinal tap or a PET scan of the brain.

Both of these kinds of detection are in early stages of research, but you likely will hear more about them in the future. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet, earlier detection give researchers more potential to study and understand Alzheimer’s. It also allows those with the disease to start on medications earlier to help manage symptoms.

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