Look through the eyes to spot Alzheimer's: Fewer blood vessels may be an early sign

Mail Online | 7/12/2019 | Vanessa Chalmers Health Reporter For Mailonline
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Scientists could count blood vessels in people's eyes to detect early signs of the memory-robbing disease, Alzheimer's.

A study found that people with early signs of cognitive decline had a noticeably smaller number of capillaries in the back of their eyes than healthy people.

Finding - Evidence - Changes - Blood - Vessels

The finding adds to past evidence which suggests the changes in the tiny blood vessels may be a window to changes in the brain.

Research in this field is still in its infancy, but scientists said an eye test could one day be used to spot Alzheimer's in its early stages.

Northwestern - University - Chicago - Participants - Brain

Northwestern University in Chicago recruited 32 participants who went through brain testing to see how good their memory was.

Those with cognitive decline were matched with people of the same age, gender and race whose cognitive (brain) health was good.

Individuals - Eye - Imaging - Impairment - Capillaries

All individuals had eye imaging, and those who had cognitive impairment had fewer capillaries in their retina than those who did not.

The team, led by Dr Sandra Weintraub, published their findings in PLoS One.

Back - Eye - Technology - OCT - Angiography

The back of the eye can be seen with new technology called OCT angiography that can show capillary changes in great detail.

It is able to reflect what is going on in the brain, as inflammation damages the small blood vessels, Dr Weintraub told Quartz.

Retina - Brain - Nerve

The retina and brain are connected by the optic nerve.

Dr Weintraub said: 'The retina is a direct extension of your brain. It actually has neuronal cells.'

Author - Professor - Amani - Fawzi - Results

Senior author Professor Amani Fawzi said: 'Once our results are validated, this approach could potentially provide an additional type of biomarker to identify individuals at high risk of progressing to Alzheimer's.

'These individuals can then be followed more closely and could be prime candidates for new therapies aimed at slowing down the progression of the disease or preventing the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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