Eye test may be able to detect Alzheimer’s decades before onset

Photo credit:CBS News

Could an eye exam one day be used to determine who is at risk for Alzheimer’s? Beta amyloid proteins are usually found in the brain and can be an indicator of the disease, but a new study discovered that they also show up as bright dots during an eye exam.

Researchers believe they’ve now found an accurate way to detect, even a decade or two in advance, who may develop this increasingly common and incurable disease.

Dr. James Galvin, a neurologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, explains the link between the eye and the brain: “What makes it unique is that the retina is actually an extension of the brain and so we think that a lot of the pathology that is occurring in the brain may also be occurring in the retina.”

The earlier you can detect this progressively debilitating disease the better, which is why Dr. Galvin says: “So we have medicines today that treat the symptoms of the disease, so you’d like to be able to pick up the disease as soon as possible, so you can start someone on an available medicine. But more importantly, in order to develop new therapies, we need to be able to identify people at the earliest stages.”

CBS Evening News, 7/13/14

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