The early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be detected with a simple eye test, according to studies recently completed in the U.S. and Australia. At present, there is still no cure for the condition, and the cause is still not fully understood, but it is believed to result from factors that include the environment and lifestyle. A minor contribution is also believed to be genetic changes that affect the brain.
Using two different techniques, researchers were able to identify a beta-amyloid protein bio-marker in the lens and the retina of the eye. The researchers hope that the techniques, which provides a high degree of accuracy, can become part of the regular eye exams that are performed by opticians. They were able to differentiate volunteers who were most likely to be Alzheimer’s disease sufferers from those were not, and expect that the test, when properly conducted can become a critical component in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The brains of Alzheimer’s patients will usually have fewer cells and connections than healthy brains. The beta-amyloid protein, forms clumps in the brain leading to damaged brain cells, and the presence of these plaques disrupts the cell-to cell communication. They are also likely to shrink in size as cells are not replaced.