A new research done by Australian scientists has shown that early signs of Alzheimer's can be detected by a simple eye test as well as falls. This study can prove to be a breakthrough in non-invasive method of Alzheimer's detection.
According to the study, it was found that Alzheimer's affect the eyes along with the brain and lead to vision changes and retina degeneration. Falls are also contemplated to diagnose the disease as it was seen in another study that people who have plagues and clots in their brain are more prone to falls than those with healthy brains. However, these researches are still at a novice level and done on small number of people; more study and research is needed to confirm the efficacy of these tests.
About 5.4 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's - a common form of dementia. Unfortunately, it has no cure till date and palliative care is the most essential part of its treatment. Given this, its detection at an earlier stage will help the patient as well as the family members to provide a better care and good amenities.
The latest eye study involved photographing blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer lining the back of the eyes, but doctors need a special computer program to measure blood vessels for the eye test experimentation in Alzheimer's research, according to Shaun Frost, the team leader of Australia's National Science Agency.
As part of this study, researchers compared retinal photos of 110 healthy people, 13 suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and 13 others having mild cognitive impairment. It was found that the width of certain blood vessels in patients suffering from Alzheimer's was different from others and this amount of difference was equal to the amount of plaque detected on brain scans.
Another study done to relate falls and gait problems with Alzheimer's found that these problems occur in Alzheimer's patients first than memory problems. This study involved 125 people aged 74 who had normal cognition and participated in federal-funded study of aging. They maintained a record of their falls and also underwent periodic brain scans and spinal taps to find Alzheimer's warning signals. It was concluded at the end of the study that the frequency of falls was more with increase in the plaque formation measured by the brain scans.
For a decade or more, brain scans have been the primary method of diagnosing Alzheimer's, but it being too expensive, a simple eye test or falling signals can prove to be a boon for Alzheimer's patients.
More studies are planned on larger groups to see how accurate the test might be, Frost said.