This Eye Scan Can 'See' Early Alzheimer's


Results of two studies being presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggest that an imaging procedure called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) can detect early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Using this precise, non-invasive test, doctors can see the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, which are altered in people with Alzheimer's — even those who don’t yet have symptoms of the disease.

For people with Alzheimer’s, earlier detection and intervention could help improve quality of life. According to researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and Sheba Medical Center in Israel, who conducted the studies, deterioration in the retina and its blood vessels may provide information about changes in the brain and its blood vessels because the retina is connected to the brain through the optic nerve.

In one study, Duke researchers used OCTA to compare retinas in people with Alzheimer’s, people with mild cognitive impairment, and healthy people. They found that small retinal blood vessels in people with Alzheimer’s had been lost and a specific layer of the retina was thinner. In the other study, researchers in Israel compared retinal and brains scans from 400 people with a family history of Alzheimer’s but no symptoms of the disease to those no family history of Alzheimer’s. They found that the inner layer of the retina is thinner in those with a family history and that the area of the brain first affected by the disease — the hippocampus — had already begun to get smaller.

Sourced from: American Academy of Ophthalmology