Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, resulting in the loss of memory, thinking and language skills. The leading cause of dementia in adults aged 65 and older, Alzheimer’s disease affects as many as 5.1 million Americans.
Doctors can diagnose “probable” Alzheimer’s disease by a lab test, medical history, physical exam, brain scan and psychological testing. However, the disease’s presence can only be confirmed with certainty after an autopsy (Source: Alzheimer’s Foundation).
Now, a simple eye test could diagnose early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Two studies (one in the United States and one in Australia) identified a biomarker for the disease that can be located in the retina and lens of the eye. Researchers stated that both methods were highly accurate in differentiating between healthy volunteers and those who may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The key indicator for Alzheimer’s disease is a sign of beta-amyloid protein, which clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Much research still needs to be completed before we see any testing for Alzheimer’s disease included in a comprehensive eye exam. Dr. Simon Ridley, the head of science at Alzheimer’s Research, UK, stated, “The research is promising but is in the very early stages.” It really is true that a comprehensive eye exam serves as a window into a patient’s overall health (Source: Montreal Gazette).