Alzheimer's Breakthrough: Eyes Can Be 'Read' for Early Detection

A graphic spelling the word Alzheimer's in fridge magnet lettering

Scientists believe that eye conditions such as Glaucoma could provide early detection of Alzheimer's

Age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma were associated with an increased prevalence in cognitive decline that are part of Alzheimer's, researchers report in findings published Wednesday in the journal Alzherimer's & Dementia.

Other diseases that impair vision that are typical of old age, such as cataracts, were not related to the risk of Alzheimer's.

An upcoming free presentation will provide an overview of the latest developments in national and local Alzheimer's disease and dementia research for anyone interested in learning more about a medical condition that has become San Diego County's third leading cause of death.

"Because you have those eye conditions does not mean you will develop Alzheimer's".

"What we found was not subtle", Dr. Paul Crane, professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine said in a press release. Over the five-year study, 792 cases of Alzheimer's disease were diagnosed by a committee of dementia experts.

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According to World Health Organization, worldwide there are about 50 million people living with dementia and about 10 million new cases are added every year.

The five-year study followed nearly 4,000 patients over the age of 65, all without clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease at the time of enrolment. Alzheimer' disease is the most common dementia, and discovering risk factors may lead to early detection and preventive measures, they said in their paper. "This study solidifies that there are mechanistic things we can learn from the brain by looking at the eye".

The eye even has the same type of tissues as the brain, the researchers said.

Jennifer Speckien, Director of the local Aging and Disability Research Center says when it comes to Dementia and Alzheimer's disease, focusing on heart health can be a saving grace. "While we were able to study diagnosed dementia, there is a great need to also identify patients with mild cognitive impairment as well as undiagnosed dementia".

"This paper is pointing to a new area of opportunity", he said.

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