Discovery – Eye Test to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Before Symptoms Start

At Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers may have spotted signs of Alzheimer’s disease within patient eyes, potentially leading to a non-invasive and rapid test for the disease. “This technique has great potential to become a screening tool that helps decide who should undergo more expensive and invasive testing for Alzheimer’s disease prior to the appearance of clinical symptoms,” said Bliss E. O’Bryhim, MD, PhD, one of the study authors appearing in journal JAMA Ophthalmology. “Our hope is to use this technique to understand who is accumulating abnormal proteins in the brain that may lead them to develop Alzheimer’s.”

Reporting in JAMA Ophthalmology, the team used optical coherence tomography (OCT) to look at the retinas of 30 older adults without symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These same patients underwent PET scans and lumbar punctures to sample the cerebrospinal fluid. About half of the group ended up having a higher amyloid and tau protein count than normal, pointing to the eventual onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. These same patients, coincidentally, had thinner retinas, something that was previously discovered during autopsies of former Alzheimer’s sufferers…