Alzheimer's is a terrible disease that affects as many as one in ten people in the United States. It can often be difficult to detect, especially in the early stages as people may put symptoms down to forgetfulness. Now, new research claims that an eye test can identify the early signs by looking for changes in blood vessels in the retina. According to the Good News Network, the technique, called OCTA could be key in helping patients by discovering the disease early.
Like a lot of degenerative illnesses, treatment for Alzheimer's can be more effective the earlier it is detected. By seeing the sings in the retina, the study says that the options to patients would be much wider. The discovery was made when researchers compared the retinas of Alzheimer's patients to those who were healthy. They soon noticed that Alzheimer's individuals had small changes to their blood vessels, as well as a thinner layer of the retina. 350 people took part in the study, including 39 with the disease, 72 with mild cognitive impairments and 254 who were otherwise healthy.
Scientists have been busy working on similar research for the last few years as the retina will often show signs of deterioration alongside the brain, due to their link. The two are connected by the optic nerve, which has been key to providing information on the subject. The simple yet effective test could be the key to helping those affected live longer, healthier lives post-diagnosis, as drugs are more likely to work.
Other factors, like a change in exercise and dietary habits, have also been shown to significantly improve a patients prognosis. In some cases, it's believed that if the risk is caught early enough, lifestyle changes could even stop the disease from progressing any further.
While there still isn't a cure for Alzheimer's, it's still a major topic of conversation in the medical community, mainly because it's so difficult to diagnose until it's advanced to a point that is very noticeable. There are some ways for doctors to screen for dementia, but none that work efficiently on large numbers of people...until now.