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Sunday, 23 July 2006 10:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Early dementia could be detected with a simple eye test
US scientists believe that early dementia could be detected with a simple eye test, similar to those used to test for high blood pressure and diabetes.

The test, developed by a team led by Dr Lee Goldstein, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, uses a non-invasive laser to study the lens of the eye.

It checks for deposits of beta-amyloid - the protein found in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease.

The scientists believe the technology, known as quasi-elastic light scattering, may detect the very earliest stages of amyloid deposits in the lens, even when they appear completely clear to the naked eye.

The amyloid deposits appear as unusual cataracts. These are different from common, age-related cataracts.

Dr Goldstein told the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Madrid: "Amyloid in the lens can be detected using extremely sensitive, non-invasive optical techniques.

"This makes the lens an ideal window for early detection and disease monitoring in Alzheimer's”.

The scientists acknowledge that much more work is needed before such a test could be available to use in patients.

Professor Clive Ballard, of The Alzheimer's Society, said: "This exciting study uses a new imaging technique which has enormous potential as a relatively inexpensive and non-evasive way to chart the growth of amyloid, the protein at the core of the plaques which develop in the brain in a person with dementia.

"But we are long way from eye scans being regularly used to diagnosis someone with dementia.

"More research is needed to show exactly how the amount of protein in the eye relates to development of dementia”.


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