According to a recent report in Science Daily October 29, 2018, a non-invasive simple eye scan can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease (AD) before symptoms set in. This paves the way for some kind of so far undiscovered intervention that could begin to treat Alzheimer’s before it reaches the point where there are symptoms. In fact, by the time symptoms set in, there has already been extensive brain damage. Also, a way to diagnose it in its very earliest stages before symptoms set in would give families time to prepare for it.
Tests to Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease are Expensive, Dangerous and not Suitable for Mass Screenings
At the present, tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s are very expensive like MRI and PET scans and also dangerous like lumbar punctures. Also, brain scans will not show it in its pre-clinical silent stage. Not only are these tests expensive and dangerous, but they cannot be used for mass screening on millions of people to properly diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
The Retina can Show the Earliest Signs of Alzheimer’s According to Two Studies
Results from two studies were presented at the AAO 2018, the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, October 26-30, 2018, at McCormick Place in Chicago. The studies revealed that a simple eye scan can show very quickly certain changes in the retina of eyes of people whose family members had Alzheimer’s or who have Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, certain changes in the tiny blood vessels in the back of the retina of the eye can indicate that someone is pre-Alzheimers, has Alzheimer’s disease or has mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA)
Researchers from Duke University used Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA) to scan the back of the retina of the eye. The retina is connected to the brain by the optic nerve and thus the changes in the retina may be reflecting changes that are also taking place in the brain. Researchers from Duke University used OCTA to compare the retinas of people with Alzheimer’s to the retinas of people with MCI and normal people. The researchers discovered that people with Alzheimer’s had lost small blood vessels at the back of the eye and that a certain layer of the retina was thinner.
Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Israel
The second study was carried out at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in Israel. The researchers examined 400 people who had Alzheimer’s in their family and who were without any symptoms themselves and compared the results of their scans with people who had no family history of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that the inner layer of the retina was thinner in those people who had a family history of Alzheimer’s and also that their hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory function, had begun to shrink. These same people also had lower scores on a cognitive function test.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that so far is fatal in its outcome, as no real cure has been found or way to prevent it in its progressive downhill decline into full dementia. More than five million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and it is the most commonly found neurodegenerative disease. It is listed as the sixth cause of death in the United States, but according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), many cases do not get reported on death certificates, so it might actually be the third cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Alzheimer’s disease leads to severe memory loss, personality changes and psychiatric disorders. Alzheimer’s is characterized by the abnormal buildup and folding in the brain of two proteins: Beta amyloid which folds into plaques and tau protein which forms into tangles. This leads to the death of nerve cells in the brain which causes severe memory loss and dementia. Alzheimer’s is on the rise all over the world and lots of money has been spent to finance research to find a cure or a way to prevent it, such as by a vaccine. It takes a tremendous financial and emotional toll on families.
Memory Care in Long-term Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Facilities
Your loved one with dementia may need to go to a special memory care unit in a long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing residential facility such as the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Van Duyn can offer your loved one a warm, safe place with skilled nursing care and a wealth of recreational activities.
A simple, non-invasive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease is to be welcomed and we can only hope that researchers will soon find a way to cure, prevent Alzheimer’s disease or stop it in its tracks.