Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

New non-invasive imaging device can quickly detect signs of Alzheimer's disease

New non-invasive imaging device can quickly detect signs of Alzheimer's disease

The primary aim for researchers was to spot retinal degeneration that may be particularly linked to Alzheimer's disease.

For the study, scientists used Octa to compare the retinas of 39 Alzheimer's patients, 37 people with mild cognitive impairment, and 133 healthy individuals with normally functioning brains. The differences in density were statistically significant after researchers controlled for factors including age, sex, and level of education.

They found the blood vessel network was less dense in the Alzheimer's patients compared with the other groups.

They stressed that while they have proved that blood vessels become sparser in those with Alzheimer's, the next step is to show this happens before memory problems appear, which would give doctors a way to diagnose the condition years in advance.

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It enables physicians to see blood vessels in the back of the eye that are smaller than the width of a human hair. Their study was published online today in Ophthalmology Retina, a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Standard optical equipment is not now strong enough to detect the vessels, which are about half the width of a strand of hair, but they did have success using a non-invasive technology called optical coherence demography and geography.

Dr Fekrat said: 'Our work is not done.

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, with symptoms including gradual degradation of memory, confusion, and dementia, which can make many everyday tasks increasingly problematic.

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Prof Fekrat and colleagues said diagnosing Alzheimer's is a challenge. These concentrations in the spinal fluid have been found to increase the chances that the disease progresses by 2.5 times.

Now the only ways to definitively diagnose Alzheimer's are through expensive brain scans or by taking a fluid sample from the patient's spinal cord. "It's not possible for current techniques like a brain scan or lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to screen the number of patients with this disease".

"But future studies need to focus on earlier stages of the disease", Isaacson said in an email.

Using the OCTA that uses light waves that reveal blood flow in every layer of the retina, the researches checked more than 200 people.

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Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia affect 850,000 people in the United Kingdom - a figure set to rise to 2 million by 2050 because of the ageing population.

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