Not only are eyes the windows to our souls, they are also the windows to our health. Scientists are working on a way to detect Alzheimer’s by looking into the eye, more precisely, into the retina.
Scientists at the University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design, were able to identify Alzheimer’s on detailed color images of the retinas of mice. Before any symptoms of Alzheimer’s are apparent, such as memory loss, changes in the retina, tell the disease is present. There are noticeable changes in the way the retina reflects light, the retina is significantly thinner and beta-amyloid proteins can be detected.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is caused by the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain’s nerve cells. The plaques are difficult to perceive in brains of living individuals, which is why Alzheimer’s is typically diagnosed based on symptoms which are most commonly, memory loss, changes in vision and problems with movement, cognition and even behavior. By the time the disease’s symptoms are clearly evident, there is significant brain function loss.
Vision problems such as trouble perceiving contrast, depth and motion, are among the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center researchers have developed a noninvasive retinal imaging device that can provide early detection of changes indicating Alzheimer’s disease 15 to 20 years before clinical diagnosis.
The cause of Alzheimer’s is still unknown and there is currently no cure. So, even if you had a retinal test that indicated you have Alzheimer’s, there is really nothing you can do about it. Would you still want to know if you had the disease? Professor Peter Snyder, a neuroscientist from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital, believes that if we don’t test Alzheimer’s drugs and therapies that might be effective in people in the earliest stages of the disease we’re never going to find something that slows progression of the disease.
Taking care of yourself, including your eyes, is always a good idea. Always wear sunglasses when you go outside, even on overcast days. If you wear eyeglasses, wear Solar Shield polarized fitsovers or clipons over your glasses.
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