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Eye test could spot the early signs of dementia

Post on 6th September 2018

At Scrivens we have enjoyed a long association with Alzheimer’s Society, so we were encouraged by the preliminaryresults of a study that suggests eye tests may be able to spot the early signs of dementia.

The small study by researchers at Washington University in St Louis identified that people whose brains had the first physical signs of Alzheimer’s disease were found to have retinal abnormalities, which could be picked by an optician during regular eye tests.

The earlier Alzheimer’s is spotted and treatment starts, the better the chance of slowing its progress and symptoms, so this is potentially very exciting news.

The university researchers scanned the eyes of 14 people whose thinking skills are still normal but whose brain scans show that they have the first markers of Alzheimer’s.

A key area of the retina was consistently larger in these people than in 16 healthy controls, according to results published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology. Previous studies have found that a layer of nerve fibres in the retina is thinner in people who did badly in reasoning and memory tests.

“Our data suggests that [eye scans] may enable quick, inexpensive screening for individuals with pre-clinical Alzheimer’s,” the researchers write.

More than 200,000 people in Britain develop dementia each year and there is no effective treatment. Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Testing whether changes in the eye might be an early sign of dementia is a fascinating area of research.”

It is recommended that most people have an eye test about every two years to keep a check on their vision.

If you need any advice on looking after your eyes or you would like to book an eye test, please call in at your nearest Scrivens branch.