Eye Scan That Detects Alzheimers

Eye scan that detects Alzheimer’s is a noninvasive approach that can visualize blood vessels down to the capillary level.  Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) is available at ophthalmologists.

This noninvasive eye scan and its ability to image intraocular structures in vivo is useful for early detection of macular and optic nerve head pathologies.

Eye Scan May Detect Alzheimers

This eye scan can detect early Alzheimers according to new findings, even before symptoms manifest.

Small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye are altered when a person had Alzheimers.  In patients who are genetically predisposed but with no symptoms will have these tell-tale signs, distinguishing between people with Alzheimers and those with mild cognitive impairment.

OCTA has assisted much of the recent research on the eyes connection with Alzheimers.  Physicians are now able to see the smallest veins in the back of the eye, including red blood cells moving through the retina.

As the retina is connected to the brain by way of the optic nerve, researchers believe that the deterioration in the retina and its blood vessels mirror the changes occurring in the blood vessels and structures in the brain, thereby allowing a time-space into the disease process.

The Challenges For Testing Alzheimers

Some techniques can detect signs of the disease but are impractical for screening millions of people.  Brain scans are expensive and spinal taps are harmful.  The disease is mostly diagnosed through memory tests or behavior observations. There is no cure for Alzheimers, but early diagnosis is vital for future treatments to be more effective.  Early diagnosis gives families time to plan for the future too.

The goal of this latest research is to find quick, affordable ways for early Alzheimer’s detection.

Researchers at Duke University used OCTA to compare patients with Alzheimers retinas with those who have mild cognitive impairment and healthy people.  The finding was that the group with Alzheimers had loss of small retinal blood vessels at the back of the eye and the retinal layer was thinner.  People with mild cognitive impairment did not exhibit any changes.

Ophthalmologist and lead author Sharon Fekrat, MD professor of Opthalmology at Duke and research team expect a positive impact with OCTA.