As we enter World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a new study into the condition has revealed signs behind your eyes could show whether you are at risk.
While there are a number of early warning signs we are already aware of, including trouble remembering or concentrating on certain things; even decision making in everyday life – the new study has found your eyes may signal the start of the illness within your brain.
How? Formation of amyloid plaque may show in the retina. This is a toxic protein deposit found between the brain cells – and are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease can cause considerable disruption to day to day lives of individuals and their loved ones, as independence and livelihood begin to decline. While there is currently no cure into Alzheimer’s disease, many developments are being made to find an early diagnosis and work with individuals and their families to combat the condition and find ways in which people can remain as independent as possible – for as long as possible.
The new study led by experts at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, found the amyloid deposits may occur in the retina of the eye in patients already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This has led to comparison tests on the retinal and brain amyloid in other patients, and observed the presence of retinal spots in the eyes correlated with scans showing high levels of cerebral amyloid.
Naturally, the team of experts believe this revelation should be used as a biomarker for detecting early-stage Alzheimer’s disease risk. Senior author of the study, Robert Rissman, PhD, said: “This was a small initial dataset from the screening visit. It involved eight patients.
“But these findings are encouraging because they suggest it may be possible to determine the onset, spread and morphology of Alzheimer’s disease using retinal imaging rather than more difficult and costly brain scans.
“We look forward to seeing the results of additional time-point retinal scans and the impact of solanezumab (a monoclonal antibody) on retinal imaging.
While the study continues, there has been evidence showing diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids could help to prevent neurodegenerative diseases – including Alzheimer’s. The growing evidence shows the healthy fats might help to reduce the levels of amyloid plaques.