June 9, 2023

A Simple Eye Test May Identify Risk of Alzheimer’s in Middle Age

Study lead Dr. Ashleigh Barrett-Young says diseases of old age, such as Alzheimers, are generally detected when people begin acting or forgetting things out of character.
” This is frequently when the disease is rather far along. Early detection is possible through MRI or other brain imaging, but this is expensive and impractical for most.
” In the future, its hoped that synthetic intelligence will have the ability to take a picture of an individuals retina and identify whether that individual is at danger for Alzheimers long prior to they begin showing symptoms, and when there is a possibility of treatment to mitigate the symptoms,” she says.
The research study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, evaluated data from 865 Dunedin Study participants looking specifically at the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and ganglion cell layer (GCL) at age 45.
Dr. Barrett-Young states they discovered thicker RNFL and GCL in middle age was connected with better cognitive efficiency in childhood and adulthood. Thinner RNFL was also linked to a greater decrease in processing speed (the speed in which a person can react and comprehend to the information they get) from youth to the adult years.
” These findings suggest that RNFL might be an indicator of overall brain health. This highlights the potential for optical scans to help in the medical diagnosis of cognitive decline.
” Given we havent been able to deal with sophisticated Alzheimers, and that the worldwide prevalence of the disease is increasing, having the ability to identify individuals in the preclinical stage, when we might still have the chance to intervene, is actually essential,” she says.
More studies are required to figure out if retinal thinning forecasts Alzheimers, or just the regular cognitive decline of old age, however the researchers have hope.
” In the future, these findings could result in AI being utilized to take a normal optical coherence tomography scan, done at an optometrist, and integrate it with other health data to determine your most likely risk for developing Alzheimers.”.
Reference: “Associations Between Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer and Ganglion Cell Layer in Middle Age and Cognition From Childhood to Adulthood” by Ashleigh Barrett-Young, PhD; Antony Ambler, MSc; Kirsten Cheyne, PhD; Hayley Guiney, PhD; Jesse Kokaua, PhD; Barbara Steptoe, DOT; Yih Chung Tham, PhD; Graham A. Wilson, MBChB; Tien Yin Wong, MD and Richie Poulton, PhD, 10 February 2022, JAMA Ophthalmology.DOI: 10.1001/ jamaophthalmol.2021.6082.

An easy eye test may make diagnosing the earliest stages of diseases of old age possible when individuals are much younger, University of Otago researchers hope.
Parts of our retina have actually formerly been proposed as biomarkers for Alzheimers, however researchers from Otagos Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Advancement Research Study System have actually been examining the retinas capacity to show cognitive change previously in life.