With the number of U.S. Alzheimer’s patients expected to climb to 13 million over the next 35 years, the search is on to find a reliable diagnostic test. Until very recently, there have only been clinical tests that help detect fairly advanced cases, and current biological markers of early disease (proteins in spinal fluid, MRI scans of the brain, and brain PET amyloid imaging) are fairly inaccurate, invasive, and expensive. However, breakthrough research has revealed that a simple eye scan may uncover the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease. By identifying buildups of proteins (beta-amyloid “plaques”) in the eye that are similar to those that collect in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, doctors can detect this most common form of dementia.
P.S. The eyes are essentially an extension of the brain, which is why and how the “plaques” associated with Alzheimer’s disease may travel from the brain through the optic nerve to the eyes.