Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disease that causes brain cells to shrink and die. It is characterized by memory problems, visual-spatial issues and impaired judgment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and similar dementias. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early diagnosis of the neurological condition can allow for treatment and a better quality of life.
Researchers have long theorized that eyes, specifically the retina, can act as a window into the brain and allow physicians to diagnose Alzheimer’s during the early stages. Backed by a growing body of research, this theory suggests that people with Alzheimer’s disease have a thinner retina, possibly caused by the cell loss associated with the brain disorder.
By examining the eyes, doctors could be able to form a reasonable assumption about the presence of Alzheimer’s and prescribe the required tests and treatments.
Researchers studied a group of middle-aged patients who are part of a five-decade-long, comprehensive longitudinal project called the Dunedin Study to determine if this theory had any merit. They found that thinning retinas were associated with a common early sign of Alzheimer’s.
Study participants who had narrower retinal nerve fiber layers also exhibited slower mental processing speeds even though most participants were only 45 years old. The median age of participants skewed young as Alzheimer’s interventions and treatments are more effective when carried out during the early stages of the disease.
Retinas act as a sort of window into the brain because they are part of the central nervous system, with some retinal cells connecting directly to the brain to help facilitate vision. Consequently, abnormal processes caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s that occur in the brain also happen in the retinal ganglion cells.
This includes cell loss and the deposition of amyloid beta protein. Early risk identification and interventions that leverage retinal scanning could allow countless people to begin receiving treatment for the neurological condition before it is too late. The technology required to do this exists and is widely available. In comparison to other imaging technologies, retinal imaging is fast, painless, noninvasive and relatively affordable. Retinal imaging devices can also be found in most hospital eye departments, retail optometrists and primary care clinics.
The technology can also be combined with artificial intelligence to make Alzheimer’s assessment easier, faster and more accessible.
Researchers are now trying to determine exactly when the disease causes the retina to begin thinning. If they are successful in their efforts, we could finally have a way to diagnose neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and begin treating these conditions in their early stages.
Many entities, such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILOD), have devoted considerable resources to the search for more effective treatments for different neurodegenerative diseases and mental health conditions. It may therefore not be long before breakthrough treatments for these illnesses are approved and commercialized.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILOD) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/SILO
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