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Eye exams to detect Alzheimer's disease.

EYE EXAMINATIONS could be used to detect proteins in the lens and retina associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to research presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, last week (July 13).

Researchers reported on two methods which could provide an easy, non-invasive way of screening for the disease, as well as a means of monitoring patient response to therapy.

The research focuses on the detection of beta-amyloid, a protein which folds incorrectly and forms clumps in the brains of those with Alzheimer's; one of the hallmarks of the disease.

In the studies, participants took a supplement or ointment which binds to the rogue protein and fluoresces, making beta-amyloid detectable when the eye is imaged.

Researchers from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) reported on their preliminary findings from an ongoing study in 200 participants with Alzheimer's.

Results from 40 patients showed that levels of amyloid plaques in the eye strongly correlate with beta-amyloid levels in the brain.

In the second study, US researchers were able to show a strong correlation between levels of beta-amyloid in the lens and in the brain, and were able to detect probable Alzheimer's candidates from healthy people with 85% accuracy.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "It is difficult to diagnose Alzheimer's disease accurately and, in many cases, by the time the symptoms have developed, damage has already been going on in the brain for a number of years.

"This research is promising but is in the very early stages and involves very small sample sizes. It is too soon to determine whether these types of tests will be useful for diagnosis of dementia and we would need to see the results of larger trials before drawing any firmer conclusions."

Ryan O'Hare


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Author:O'Hare, Ryan
Publication:Optometry Today
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUDE
Date:Jul 18, 2014
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