Detecting dementia in the blink of an eye

As evidence grows that early intervention can help delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, researchers are hoping to discover ways to detect the disease earlier and earlier, even before memory-impacting symptoms begin.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch–Galveston are working on ways to detect and measure inflammation and mutant tau proteins—thought to be key elements of Alzheimer’s—in the retinal tissue of the eye.

There is a relationship between higher inflammation and nerve degeneration in the retina may be an indicator of similar degeneration in the brain tissue, according to their findings, recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Early detection of Alzheimer's warning signs would allow for early intervention and prevention of neurodegeneration before major brain cell loss and cognitive decline occurs," said lead author Ashley Nilson, a neuroscience graduate student, in a university release. "Using the retina for detecting AD and other neurodegenerative diseases would be non-invasive, inexpensive and could become a part of a normal screening done at patient checkups.

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia