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An eye test for Alzheimer’s

August 21, 2017
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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An Alzheimer’s diagnosis might be in plain sight.

Researchers have found an eye scan can detect Alzheimer’s disease with as much accuracy and significantly lower costs, according to groundbreaking new research.

The eye test was just as successful as traditional diagnostic brain scans at spotting plaque build up in the brain.

“These data may suggest amyloid accumulation in the retina is an early event in Alzheimer’s pathogenesis,” the authors write in the study published in the journal JCI Insight.

Researchers had 16 people with Alzheimer’s drink a solution with curcumin, the main chemical in the spice turmeric. The noninvasive technique uses the natural fluorescence of curcumin to cross the blood-brain and blood-retina barrier to light up amyloid deposits at the back of the eye. The proteins can then be seen by a retinal imaging device.  

It’s long been though there is a link between the amount of amyloid plaque in the eye and brain, as the retina is formed from the same tissue as the brain while a baby is in utero. The retina is a central nervous system tissue is easily accessible for direct imaging at high resolution.

In comparison to standard invasive methods, the findings could offer a low-cost diagnostic test that could be used to detect those at risk of Alzheimer’s to undergo additional testing.  

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