A medical technician monitors a scan of a patient’s brain. (Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg)

Simple Eye Test May Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists have developed a simple eye test based on imaging technology similar to that used in National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellites to detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The test developed by researchers at the Centre for Eye Research Australia and the University of Melbourne in Australia will undergo clinical trials later this year. The eye scan trial will look for abnormal proteins that build up in the brain through the retina.

Peter van Wijngaarden from CERA said the new technology will test people who do not show any signs of memory impairment and detect abnormalities years before symptoms appear.

"At the moment, Alzheimer's disease is very difficult to diagnose. Most people who present with memory impairment don't get access to a definitive diagnosis, because of the need for costly brain scans or a spinal tap to collect fluid," Wijngaarden said.

He explained that the test takes less than a second of imaging time so it is quick and easy. "The new type of imaging uses different colours of light and we can detect abnormal proteins that build up product in the back of the eye," he added.

Xavier Hadoux, a post doctoral researcher at CERA who helped develop the technology, said it had the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

"The test can identify people at risk of the disease and open the way to new treatments and hopefully a cure," Hadoux said.

"Ultimately, we hope the people who are identified may go on to the next wave of treatments, so they never develop the disease," he added.

Also read: Too Many Medicines Simply Don’t Work

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