Melbourne’s Centre for Eye Research in Australia (CERA) has developed non-invasive and cost-effective eye tests that can detect early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in patients.
Studies have revealed people who suffer from Alzheimer’s have minimal blood flow and fewer blood vessels at the back of their eye, in their retinas.
The eye-scan trial will identify abnormal proteins which build up in the brain and are transmitted through the retinas, becoming a mirror to what is occurring in the brain.
CERA Researcher Peter van Wijngaarden said the new technology will be used to identify any oddities in patients who do not show physical signs of Alzheimer’s, such as memory impairment.
“At the moment, Alzheimer’s disease is very difficult to diagnose,” Dr Wijngaarden said.
“Most people who present memory impairment don’t get access to a definitive diagnosis, because of the need for costly brain scans or a spinal tap to collect fluid.”
American philanthropists such as Bill Gates and MacKenzie Bezos have donated $600,000 to immediately begin the trials.
What will this mean in the future?
With quicker and earlier identification of Alzheimer’s disease, prevention and treatment alternatives can be used so patients can live more independent lives.
Dr Xavier Hadoux, who developed the technology, said it could be a catalyst to finding a cure to the disease.
“The test can identify people at risk of the disease and open the way to new treatments and hopefully a cure,” Dr Hadoux said
“Ultimately, we hope the people who are identified may go on to the next wave of treatments, so they never fully develop the disease.”
The trial is currently offered to adult volunteers who have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.